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/;/ the a stir chill of an early April morn- 
ing in /77j... 

Captitin John Parker, commanding 
the Lexington mimitemen, directed his 
drummer boy to go across the road to 
the Common and beat the call to arms. 
And <u)hen William Diamond, bringing 
the enthusiasm of his sixteen years to the 
heating of bis gaily emblazoned druni^ 
rolled out the call to the village's mimite- 
nien, the War of the -American Revolu- 
tion began. ,. : . #f . : 

1 ; ' i" "tf-;*5, 

William Diamond's Dr^ 


A straggling handfulperhaps forty in 
allof Massachusetts farmers answered 
the call of William Diamond's drum. 
Some of them were experienced fighters, 
veterans of the bloody French and 
Indians Wars, well versed in guerrilla 
tactics and undercover fighting. But 
they were no match for the seven hun- 
dred gleaming, handsomely uniformed 
British regulars bearing down on the 
small green meadow known as Lexing- 
ton Common. The minutemen's historic 
stand against the cream of General 
Gage's Boston occupation army has be- 
come a legend, the subject of innumer- 
able songs and poemsan American 
"Thermopylae." What happened that 
April morning on Lexington Common 
and, a few hours later, at Concord Bridge 
and the dramatic events which preceded 
and followed the two battlcs-iall this is 
revealed in Arthur Bernon Tourtellot's 
fully documented, fascinating history. 

(Continued on back flap) 


001 D11M75 3 

973 33 T73w 61-12685 

Tourcellotj Arthur Bemon 

William Diamond's drum; the 
beginning of the War of the 


Towtellot, Arthur Bemon . 
William Diamond's drum; "&he 
bediming of the War of the 
American Revolution. Garden 
C3tv, N.Y.,, 1959. 



- -J-- 



The Beginning of the War 
of the American Revolution 



Copyright 1959 by Arthur Bernon Tourtellot 
All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America 


Jonathan Bernon 


Christopher Trayne 













NOTES 271 


INDEX 303 



1. Silhouette of Jonas Clarke 62 

2. Portrait of Samuel Adams 62 

3. Portrait of John Hancock 62 

4. Portrait of Paul Revere 62 

5. Portrait of General Thomas Gage 124 

6. Portrait of Major Pitcairn 124 

7. Doolittle print: the Battle at Lexington Common 124 

8. Doolittle print: the British army in the center 

of Concord 124 

9 . Doolittle print : the Battle of North Bridge 

in Concord J 88 

i o. Portrait of Lord Percy 1 88 

1 1 . Doolittle print : the meeting of Percy's forces 

with Smith's at Lexington 1 88 

1 2 . Portrait of Dr. Warren 1 88 

1 3. Salem Gazette broadside, dramatizing the Battle 

of Lexington 250 



14. Portrait of John Adams 250 

15. Cartoon broadside, "The Retreat," published 

in London 250 

1 6. Print of Boston Common 250 



1 . The routes of Revere, Dawes, 

and Dr. Prescott Front End Sheet 

2. The route of the British on the night Facing Page 
of April 1 8th from Boston to Concord 48 

3. The Battle of Lexington Common 96 

4. The battle in Concord at the bridge 216 

5. The route of the British relief force under Percy 

on the morning of April i gth 2 64 

6. The retreat to Boston Back End Sheet 


Every student of the beginnings of hostilities in the War of the 
American Revolution must acknowledge the extraordinarily per- 
ceptive work of the late Allen French of Concord and the sharply 
speculative essays of the late Harold Murdock, read before the 
Massachusetts Historical Society and the Colonial Society. In the 
case of this book, I owe a more special debt to each. 

Mr. French completed his invaluable inquiries into the events 
of April nineteenth, 1775, some thirty-three years ago, before all 
the documentary evidence was known, and concentrated there- 
after on his major work. The First Year of the American Revo- 
lution, which does not treat of Lexington and Concord. However, 
he was later the first American scholar to make a careful examina- 
tion of the papers of General Thomas Gage, acquired by William 
L. Clements and now at the University of Michigan; his comments 
in the informal report, General Gage's Informers^ are still a pro- 
vocative guide to later inquirers. Mr. French's wise scholarship 
was equaled by his generosity. Shortly after I had dealt, necessarily 
briefly, with the opening of the Revolution in The Charles, he 
offered to lend me his copious factual notes for use in my further 
investigations into the happenings of April nineteenth. 

The incongruity of the decision made in the early morning on 
Lexington Common was first noted, incidentally and with his char- 
acteristic wit, by Mr. Murdock in a paper called "Historic Doubts 
on the Battle at Lexington," read before the Massachusetts His- 
torical Society. It was this passing reflection that led me to a re- 


examination of the evidence resulting in the hypothesis presented in 
this book. His further speculations on Earl Percy's retreat, read 
before the Colonial Society, contained many suggestions and 
some determined investigations of alleged atrocities of great value 
to my consideration of the battle reports as propaganda. 

For copies of primary source documents and illustrations, I am 
indebted to Miss Helen M. Brown. Copies of the silhouette of 
Jonas Clarke and the portrait of Lord Percy, photographed by 
Mr. Henry Jackson, were furnished through the courtesy of Mrs. 
Robert C. Merriam, curator of the Lexington Historical Society, 
which also owns the miniature of Major Pitcairn. The Doolittle 
prints of Lexington Common and of the British officers on the ridge 
in Concord are used through the courtesy of the Connecticut His- 
torical Society. The Doolittle prints of Earl Percy in Lexington 
and of North Bridge, Concord, are reproduced through the 
courtesy of the Albany Institute of History and Art. The Gage 
portrait is in the collection of Colonel R. V. C. Bodley in Boston. 
The portraits of Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John 
Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren are owned by the Museum of 
Fine Arts in Boston. The broadside is reproduced through the 
courtesy of the Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts. The British 
cartoon is reproduced through the courtesy of the John Carter 
Brown Library in Providence, which owns the original. The view 
of Boston Common is from a print in the Phelps Stokes Collection, 
New York Public Library, after an original water-color drawing 
by Christian Remick, dated 1768, in the Concord Antiquarian 

Arthur Bernon Tourtellot 

Wilton, Connecticut 
January 14, 1959 




cc . . . and having met at the place of our 
company's parade., [we] were dismissed by our 
captain, John Parker, for the present, with orders 
to be ready to attend at the beat of the drum." 



In the clear chill of an early April morning in 1775, twenty-one 
companies of picked British soldiers grenadiers, the tallest, most 
heavily armed of infantrymen, traditionally the first to attack, 
and light infantry, the agile flanking troops of the regiments 
marched out from Boston across the softly rolling countryside of 

After a restless night of alarms, counsels, musters and dis- 
missals of militia, mysterious couriers, intelligence and counter- 
intelligence, a forty-five-year-old veteran of Rogers' Rangers in 
the French and Indian wars, Captain John Parker, commanding 
the Lexington minutemen, directed his drummer boy to go across 
the road to the Common and beat the call to arms. And when 
William Diamond, bringing the enthusiasm of his sixteen years to 
the beating of his gaily emblazoned drum, rolled out the call to the 
village's minutemen, the War of the American Revolution began. 

Everyone, including Captain Parker, knew where the British 


were headed: Concord, five miles to the west. To get there, the 
British regulars had to march right into Lexington's Common, a 
two-acre triangular patch that divided the road into two branches. 

As William Diamond continued to beat the call on his drum, 
the Lexington minutemen perhaps thirty of them assembled on 
the Common. Captain Parker directed Orderly Sergeant William 
Munroe to form the men in ranks. 

Eventually Captain Parker had thirty-eight men strung out 
thinly in one line and in part of a second. "I was stationed about 
in the centre of the company," said Sylvanus Wood. "While we 
were standing, I left my place and went from one end of the 
company to the other, and counted every man who was paraded, 
and the whole number was thirty-eight and no more." 2 

The rolling beat of William Diamond's drum began to drown 
out, in the ears of the approaching British, the soft thud of their 
own marching feet on the unpaved roadway. Aware that the drum 
was sounding a military assembly, the British officers halted their 
troops, the light infantry in front and the grenadiers in the rear. 
Orders were given to stop, prime and load their guns, double their 
ranks, and then to proceed again at double-quick time. 

All the elements of an inevitable, if ludicrously one-sided, battle 
were now present in almost geometric simplicity: a little band of 
armed yeomen, their number perhaps swelled into the forties now, 
stood in one and a half straggly rows, their guns primed and 
loaded; up the road, headed toward them on the double, came 
several hundred soldiers, their guns also primed and loaded. 

Now this was an odd situation, a suicidal situation, for Captain 
Parker and his minutemen all of them hard and practical men 
to get themselves into. 

First of all, the British threat in itself did not call for a 
Thermopylaean stand. The British soldiers represented about one 
sixth of the strength of General Gage's peacetime occupation army 
garrisoned in Boston. The little army had been stationed there for 
nearly a full year all through the summer of 1774 and the re- 


markably mild winter of 1774-75; in all that time they had 
molested no one, destroyed no property. Except for the kind of 
minor and isolated encounters common between townspeople and 
the military in garrison towns a taunting remark, a drunken 
argument, a dispute over a woman the occupation was wholly 
peaceful. Occasionally, during the year, battalions were marched 
out of Boston into the surrounding country for exercise and then, 
without incident, returned again. "The people swear at us some- 
times," one colonel wrote, "but that does us no harm." 3 General 
Gage himself was probably the most peaceable occupying general 
in all history. He had thus far proved much more irritating to his 
own people than to the Americans, annoying his government at 
home by his passiveness and his soldiers by such unwarlike restric- 
tions as banning the wearing of sidearms on the streets of Boston. 
Nicknamed "Old Woman" by his officers and men, he was dubbed 
"The Mild General" by George III. And now he had sent the 
flower of his regiments across Middlesex for the not very bellicose 
purpose of seizing some powder stored at Concord and that was 
all. This Captain Parker knew, the colonials having already dis- 
patched warnings to the Concord militia to hide the stores. More- 
over, the British march from Boston to Lexington, three quarters 
of the way to Concord, had been accomplished without the de- 
struction of any property or harm to any person. 

Would Captain Parker, then, have seen this situation as one 
requiring a suicidal stand by his little company on the Common? 
The only American general who commanded later that day did not 
think so : "This company continuing to stand so near to the road, 
after they had certain notice of the advancing of the British in 
force, was but a too much braving of danger; for they were sure to 
meet with insult or injury, which they could not repel. Bravery, 
when called to action, should always take the strong ground on the 
basis of reason." 4 

Secondly, Captain Parker was not a man to have ordered a little 
group to expose itself directly and foolishly to enemy fire. He was a 


man of maturity, well read, sensible; a working farmer attuned to 
realities; a father, wholly supporting a wife and seven small chil- 
dren; in his youth an experienced fighter in all kinds of wilderness 
battles during the French and Indian wars, well practiced in the 
tactics of concealment and guerrilla warfare. No local military 
martinet throwing his weight around, he was elected as their 
captain by the minutemen themselves, who chose him over men 
who had been older in service and higher in rank during the 
earlier wars. He obviously had qualities of sense and judgment 
that attracted the respect of his townsmen. He simply would not 
have made, for any military reasons, the decision to line up his 
slender company in the very path of British troops outnumbering 
him nearly twenty to one. If he knew the approximate strength of 
the British, any such military decision would have been criminally 
stupid and incredibly irresponsible. And Captain Parker did know 
that, even if he had got his whole company on the Common, they 
would be outnumbered by at least seven to one. Indeed, if any- 
thing the strength of the British marching forces had been over- 
estimated in Lexington that night, having been placed at twelve 
or fifteen hundred men by intelligence received five hours earlier. 5 
If Captain Parker had had it in mind to challenge such a force, 
he knew how to do it. Before the road from Boston leveled out to 
a straight stretch before Lexington Common, it passed between 
two wooded hills. In ten minutes Captain Parker could have had 
his militia out of range and out of sight of the British raining 
bullets down on the heads of the enemy. Instead, he lined them up, 
hopelessly ineffective, on the Common. This decision must have 
been made, therefore, for other than military reasons, or it must 
have been made by someone else. 

Thirdly, the Lexington minutemen were not inexperienced 
youngsters. The oldest was sixty-three, a veteran of Louisburg in 
1758 and the Indian uprisings of 1762, an officer of the company 
and unquestionably consulted by Parker. Two others were also in 
their sixties; four in their fifties; eight in their forties. Of the 



seventy-seven, fifty-five were over thirty, and over twenty of them 
had served in the French and Indian wars. Democratic in their 
organization and simple and direct in their relationship with one 
another, the minutemen would obviously have counseled with 
their elected leader during the three hours between the first alarm 
and the fatal muster on the Common. In fact. Captain Parker, 
in a deposition given six days later, said that they did : ". . . in 
the Morning, about One of the Clock . . . ordered our militia to 
meet on the Common . . . to consult what to do, and concluded 
not to be discovered, nor meddle or make with said Regular 
Troops." 6 Thus, the company participated in the decision. 

The decision made at the first alarm, three hours before 
William Diamond was ordered to beat his drum and the minute- 
men to stand like tenpins in open sight on the Common, visible 
for a thousand yards up the road was "not to be discovered." 
It was a sensible decision, one to be expected of a man of Parker's 
character and experience and of the clearheaded fanners and 
craftsmen of his company. But sometime between one-thirty and 
four-thirty, it was abandoned. Parker lined his men up in the rising 
daylight on the clear green of the Common where discovery was 
certain, and he began a war that ended seven years later with an 
effect on human history more lasting and more penetrating than 
any that had gone before. 



"The men who fell on this green > under the 
shadow of the village church . , . were men born 
and reared here,, taught at the village school and 
from the village pulpit . . " 


The little group that Captain Parker mustered on Lexington 
Common before daybreak on April nineteenth, 1775, had some 
of the characteristics of a family reunion. At least a quarter of 
those present were his own relatives or those of his wife cousins, 
nephews, brothers-in-law. Among the oldest was a first cousin of 
the captain, a fiercely determined grandfather, Jonas Parker, 
there with his son, Jonas, Junior; and among the youngest was 
the captain's widowed sister-in-law's son, the sixteen-year-old fif er, 
Jonathan Harrington. There were nine Harringtons, seven 
Munroes, four Parkers, three Tidds, three Lockes, and three 
Reeds. These six families furnished twenty-nine of the seventy- 
seven minutemen who answered William Diamond's drum call. 

This was as Captain Parker would have expected. His Lexington 
was a little village, sprawled out over nineteen square miles and 
inhabited by a little more than a hundred families. Since im- 
migration had virtually stopped with the French wars of the 


seventeen-fifties, the population of the town, changed only by the 
births and deaths of the inhabitants, stayed unaccustomedly stable 
during the last half of the eighteenth century. In 1775 there were 
seven hundred and fifty people in the town men, women and 
children, five slaves and four hundred cows. The town consisted 
topographically of about ten thousand acres of fertile fields, very 
gentle hills, and occasional woodlands, sometimes broken by slight 
greenstone formations, patches of peat bog, or scores of little 
streams that eventually found the Charles or Mystic rivers to 
empty into the sea fourteen miles away. 

Lexington's weather was varied, the arrival and duration of the 
seasons uncertain. In the little burying ground north of the 
Common are the cryptic evidences of long and bitter winters. But 
the winter of 1774-75 was so mild and short that old men, always 
particularly concerned with such things, noted it in their diaries; 
and in the parish register there were listed only a half dozen 
funerals. Lexington had also known long, warm summers, and yet 
almost all these were marred and heavy with epidemic deaths of 
children and young adults, probably from typhoid. All this bred 
a people who had learned to accept and yet to go on, and if all 
these vital records show anything beyond statistics it is that here 
were a brave people who had a kind of sturdy gallantry and who 
triumphed over all the successions of losses they suffered. This 
perhaps as much as anything made equalitarians of them, al- 
though there was a somewhat special position occupied by the 
schoolteacher and by the two physicians, Dr. Joseph Fiske (whose 
father practiced in Lexington before him) and his son. Dr. Joseph, 
Junior, who was to go away as a surgeon in the Continental 

By American standards Captain Parker's Lexington was an old 
town, many of its families having lived there, some in the same 
houses, for five or six generations. Captain Parker's mother's 
family, the Stones, had been in Lexington for four generations, 
the Parkers for three, but both families had been in Massachusetts 


since 1635, when the Bay Colony was only five years old. Every 
decade since the 16405 the town of Lexington had grown by 
perhaps a hundred people. Every decade a little more of the 
woodlands was cleared, and the broad meadows cultivated, and 
the rich peat swamps used. Most of the settlers, of course, came 
from the seaside port towns and were turning away from the 
mercantile or fishing life for the ways of the farmer, turning away 
from the sea to the land. For over a century now they had 
worked hard and prospered. They had built themselves houses of 
remarkably simple and enduring dignity and married among 
themselves so that almost all the families were in one way or 
another interrelated. The town burying ground was, to a consider- 
able extent, a family graveyard, with all its stark headstones, with 
their fatalistic legends, tracing the marriages among the families 
of the town. 

The gravestones told, too, of the flinty theology to which John 
Parker's forebears had subscribed back in the early days, when 
the cold persistent spirit of John Calvin hung like a pall over the 
town and filled it with a grim preoccupation with the eternal 
damnation of all but the elect. The craggy dogma of the Bible 
state, however, began to wane long before Lexington was a century 
old, John Parker's generation grew up with considerable reserva- 
tions about the doctrine of the elect. Gradually, the people of 
Lexington became a pragmatic people, unsuited to the preservation 
of the Puritanism of the i6oos, and without making any great 
issue of it shook off the more styptic elements of the old faith while 
such of its last defenders as Cotton Mather were wallowing in their 
own absurdities. 

Meanwhile, the patchwork of small but productive farms that 
were stretched across the town of Lexington began to be less iso- 
lated from one another, less wholly independent. A village life and 
a village character started to emerge. With others of the town 
Captain Parker's great-grandfather, Samuel Stone, subscribed in 
1 7 1 1 to a fund to purchase an acre and a half of land where the 


Concord, Bedford, and Boston roads met, to be owned in common 
by all the people of the town. Even then the Common was the 
center of village life. Muzzy's Tavern (later Buckman's), having 
been licensed as a public house since 1693, stood directly across 
the road from it. The Reverend John Hancock's parsonage stood 
up the road a few hundred yards. Conspicuously adjacent to the 
Common was the old meetinghouse, built in 1692, which func- 
tioned also as a town hall, an armory, an assembly place, and 
sometimes as a schoolhouse. In 1714 a new and larger meeting- 
house was built on the Common, a great bamlike structure with 
two tiers of galleries and the main floor made up of high-walled 
pews carefully sold, in the order of the desirability of their location, 
to members with "respect first for age, second for real and personal 
estate, third to have respect to but one head in the family." John 
Parker's grandfather was granted "the second seat" unmistak- 
able sign of a solid citizen. The next year, 1715, they built a 
schoolhouse on the Common, behind the meetinghouse some dis- 
tance. There from October to March each year, a fireplace 
blazing at one end of the one room, the Lexington children were 
instructed by a succession of underpaid Harvard graduates, who 
courted the minister's daughters and most of whom later entered 
the ministry themselves. The people of the town also built stocks 
on their Common to punish malefactors, including common scolds, 
dug a well to water the schoolchildren and "the town people on 
Sabbath days," and erected a stubby belfry to house a five- 
hundred-pound bell, given to the bell-less town by John Parker's 
cousin, Isaac Stone. But by fax the most powerful influence on the 
Common, as John Parker was growing up, was the outpouring 
of the voice of the Reverend John Hancock, for over half a century 
the pastor of the Lexington church. 

From the tall pulpit of the newer meetinghouse Hancock dis- 
pensed a liberal and cheerful theology to the generations of 
Parker's parents, his contemporaries, their children, and some of 
their grandchildren. They listened also as he guided them through 


many of their temporal affairs. He was known to settle land dis- 
putes by driving a stake in the ground and simply telling the 
disputants that that was the boundary and there would be no 
further argument about it. And he moved swiftly to deter his 
parish from having elders a variety of lay deputy clergy, usually 
of a meddling and troublesome nature by stating flatly that the 
duty of the older elder would be to accompany the pastor on all 
out-of-town trips and pay all expenses and that of the younger 
elder would be to brush down and harness the pastor's horse when 
he required it. 

Witty, respected, an entirely new type of native American clergy, 
who saw the death of the old Puritan theocracy with relief and 
apparently with some delight, old "Bishop" Hancock awakened 
on a cold December night in 1752 with an acute stomach-ache 
and died promptly, at the age of eighty-two, without inconven- 
iencing even Dr. Fiske up the road at the next house. John Hancock 
left his mark on Lexington. At the time of his death, the parish at 
Lexington was sixty years old, and he had ministered to it for 
fifty-four of them. He brought its people out of the melancholy 
hopelessness of predestination, through the "new lightism" that 
split many of the Massachusetts churches in half as they strained 
at theological gnats; and, by his wise, good-humored interven- 
tion from time to time, he accustomed the townspeople to the 
role of the clergyman as a dominant voice in temporal affairs on 
the somewhat novel grounds that he might be a rational mind 
worth listening to instead of a priestly authority they could not 
avoid. This last may well have been his most significant achieve- 

By the time of Hancock's death, when John Parker was twenty- 
three, Lexington had acquired its eighteenth-century character 
as a quiet, self-contained village that governed itself, elected and 
instructed its own representative to the Great and General Court 
the colonial legislature of Massachusetts, and prized the royal 
charter as the mother country's irrevocable recognition of its basic 



rights and freedoms. During the long, scattered wars with the 
French and Indians in the 17405 and 17505, as many as forty of 
Lexington's two hundred male adults had fought to defend the 
King's realm in North America, at the capture of Louisburg, at 
Lake Champlain, and at the fall of Quebec. Several had joined the 
hardy corps of Major William Rogers' Rangers; and one of 
them, Edmund Munroe, was the regiment's adjutant. Four of the 
Parker family, including John, marched off to these wars and 
acquired a degree of military confidence and competence that 
stayed with them all their days. 

From his family experience John Parker also learned something 
of political self-determinism. His father, Josiah Parker, was select- 
man for twelve years and had served for repeated terms as town 
clerk and assessor. His cousin, Jonas Stone, was also a selectman 
and later a representative to the General Court and a delegate to 
the Provincial Congress. After the fall of Quebec and the inter- 
minable French wars drew to their close in the 1 7603, the political 
life of the times and, indeed the political objectives of the people 
began to take ascendancy over the old religious life and objectives. 
The most articulate and influential agent of the transformation in 
Lexington was, oddly enough, the extraordinary and persuasive 
young pastor who had been called to succeed Hancock, the 
Reverend Jonas Clarke. 


Three years out of Harvard, Jonas Clarke arrived in Lexington 
in the spring of 1755. He was twenty-four years old, unmarried, 
large and impressive in appearance, neat to the point of fastid- 
iousness in his dress, and more concerned with the practical social 
applications of Christianity than with its body of doctrine. Gre- 
garious, worldly, of a literary bend, he was a gifted social and 
political philosopher, with a strong inclination to logic. He was 
one of an entire generation of Harvard men who came under the 



influence of the "gentle, tender, affectionate 352 President Edward 
Holyoke, whose attachment to the libertarian principles of John 
Locke furnished the rationale of the Massachusetts patriots who 
led the revolutionary movement during the cold war that went on 
for over a decade before the outbreak of armed hostilities. 

Before he accepted their call to Lexington, Jonas Clarke drove 
the hard bargain with the town fathers necessary to win their 
respect. The parish settled on him an outright payment of 133 
and an annual salary of 80 but shrewdly demanded that he quit 
forever any "claim, title or interest in or unto any part of the 
ministerial land in this town." The ministerial land was a tract 
acquired by an assessment of the parishioners for the purpose of 
providing revenues for the clergy; the Reverend John Hancock 
had had the right to take wood from it for lumber for use on his 
own property and for fuel. So Jonas Clarke demanded, and got, 
a supply of twenty cords of wood a year in addition to his salary. 
However, when the expenses facing the town seemed to Clarke 
"not small," he sometimes gave back a part of his salary in gracious 
little letters to the moderator at town meetings. An excellent man- 
ager of his own affairs, he lived reasonably well, brought up a 
family of twelve children, and left his heirs a highly productive 
sixty-acre farm. 

Clarke was a man of greater and more far-reaching intellect 
than John Hancock had been, and he possessed some of the ver- 
satility and range of interests that characterized such contempo- 
raries as Jefferson and Franklin. He managed his farm with ex- 
traordinary skill and kept a systematic 3 almost scientific record 
of its production. Something of an experimentalist in the gaunt 
liturgy that his sect permitted itself, he abandoned the old New 
England psalm singing, threw out the atrocious versifications by 
the Harvard divines that had been used for a century, and even 
introduced hymn singing in the parish. He was interested in all 
the activities in the town, and his house soon became a busy 
gathering place for both the townspeople and for visitors from 



other communities. It became clear, within a few years of his 
settlement at Lexington, that he would be the greatest single in- 
fluence in the town's history, 

As the youthful successor to the octogenarian Hancock, Clarke 
was a compelling and attractive personality to the young people, 
John Parker, for example, was only a year older than the new 
pastor and early fell under his influence. He spent hours talking 
with the young cleric and always left with his arms loaded with 
borrowed books. Parker and his twenty-four-year-old bride, Lydia 
Moore, were probably the first couple married during Jonas 
Clarke's pastorate. A couple of years later Clarke himself married 
Lucy Bowes, daughter of the pastor of the neighboring town of 
Bedford and a granddaughter of the Reverend John Hancock, 
whose ancient relict still lived in Lexington. Clarke and his young 
wife moved into the Hancock house with the matriarch and set 
about raising a family, ultimately numbering six girls and seven 
boys, all but one of whom lived to adulthood. 

By the time John Parker was back from the French and Indian 
wars, the Reverend Jonas Clarke was well established as the 
leader of affairs in Lexington. Parker's cousin, Jonas Stone, was 
elected deacon of the church, and Stone was also the town's 
leading politician, being successively assessor, selectman, treasurer, 
and delegate to the General Court. In due time Clarke and Stone 
became a team, Clarke defining policy and Stone carrying it out. 


Although the War of the American Revolution began when 
Captain John Parker lined up his handful of men on Lexington 
Common, the Revolution itself was not a battle of bullets but a 
battle of opinion that began in the early iy6os. After the dis- 
tractions of the French wars, the British sought to consolidate the 
empire by expanding Parliamentary control over the colonies, by 
revoking the old charters that virtually gave them home rule, and by 
radical alterations in the British tax structure so as to impose 



upon them unfamiliar burdens this last on the general grounds 
that the colonies benefited most directly from large proportions 
of Great Britain's army and navy expenses. All this constituted 
what was essentially a badly needed program of administrative 
reform; and if there were any economic wrongs to be redressed 
at the time, they were wrongs suffered by England and not by 
the colonies. In fact, the failure of the Grenville ministry that 
initiated the reforms was not so much due to errors of substance 
or even altogether of procedure although errors of the latter 
variety came in abundance later; the failure of Grenville was a 
total neglect of communications. Under the old patent charters the 
colonies had probably the freest form of regional self-government 
the world has ever known, before or since. This freedom had bred 
in the colonies such a commanding sense of seH-determinism on 
most all their affairs that when the administrative reforms enacted 
in London found expression in more positive executive actions by 
the colonial governors in America, it bore to the colonists a strong 
smack of outright tyranny. Moreover, the source of the irritation 
lay as much in the sudden enforcement of old laws, particularly 
revenue laws, as in the passing of new laws, 

There was a general feeling, most acute in the port towns, that 
a good and free-trading era was coming to an end. The trading of 
the colonial merchants had made them far richer, and at a much 
faster pace, than their heavily taxed counterparts in England. 
Profits were immense, and taxes and tariffs low and often com- 
pletely ignored. At the same time, the security of the colonies was 
the responsibility of the British, and whatever freedom there was 
on the high seas that fell short of piratical anarchy was safe- 
guarded by the British navy. Meanwhile, the long French and 
Indian wars had left Britain with a great debt; the far-flung 
empire, with its vulnerabilities to France and Spain, involved 
heavy military and navy expenses; and there were serious doubts 
that domestic revenues, in England could be greatly increased. 
Finally, with the major preoccupation of the British on the North 



American continent the boundless, drawn-out conflict with the 
French concluded, it was high time that someone tried to bring 
about a more efficient management of colonial affairs. For the 
truth of the matter was that the British empire as a political entity 
had no existence beyond a loose federation, no political philosophy 
beyond a theoretic loyalty to the Crown, and no real management 
of its colonial interests at all. In fact, several colonial officials had 
served out their appointments without ever leaving London a 
custom so common that when Grosvenor Bedford was turned out 
of his job as Collector of Customs at Philadelphia because he had 
lived in London all the twenty-five years that he held the post, 
Horace Walpole wrote the Prime Minister, protesting Bedford's 
discharge as unjust. As the King's First Minister, George Grenville 
could see nothing but disaster ahead if some order were not created 
out of the political, administrative, and fiscal chaos of the empire. 

But if the realities of the situation were on his side, philosophy 
and theory and the intellectual drift of the times were on the side 
of the colonists. Indeed, the little village of Lexington in Mas- 
sachusetts, its small population supporting itself by consuming and 
selling the products of their farms and of their few craft shops, 
had little economic stake in the conflict. It had nothing but theory 
to justify concerning itself with the growing squabble with Britain. 

The custodian of political theory in Lexington was the Reverend 
Jonas Clarke. His passion for the subject sprang from many 
sources. For one thing, all the theology and ecclesiasticism he had 
been through in his young life was tied up inextricably with politics. 
For the impact of the covenant, a political contract as well as a 
declaration of faith, was a living force in the New England con- 
sciousness, which was deeply ingrained with the notion that if 
men could bind themselves together to manage their own spiritual 
lives they could do the same with regard to their temporal affairs. 
When all the Calvinist strictures were wrung out of Puritan 
thinking, the one lasting social effect was this overriding tenet of 
self-reliance. To Jonas Clarke and the New England clergy, how- 



ever, Puritanism left other legacies. Although the Bible state 
of the theocrats was dead by his time, its long shadow was to fall 
over his own years and the history of his province far into the 
future; and the ministers were all the more jealous of their 
positions in their communities when they saw their influence as 
priests fading and as political tutors rising. And they still clung to 
their roles as magistrates. Offenders in Jonas Clarke's congre- 
gation still "stood up in meeting' 5 and recited, to the elevated 
delight of their brethren in the endlessly long Sabbath sessions, the 
details of their errings. The reliance of Puritanism upon Judaism, 
with the authority of the temple and the Mosaic code, had survived 
the gradual diminishing of the old association of parish and town 
as one entity with two faces. 

In contrast to the old Calvinist preachers with their vengeful 
Jehovah, Jonas Clarke preached the Christian virtues, but he was 
nevertheless fully aware that there was much to be said for the 
old emphasis by way of preserving the ministerial authority. Yet 
he was realist and social student enough to know that for the future 
the strength of the ministry lay in its members being with their 
people rather than over them. And if the Anglican clergy derived 
strength from associations with royal governors, the nonconform- 
ist ministers did from associations with selectmen. Throughout 
many New England towns, nevertheless, the waning influence of 
the ministers had become a real problem. The reactionary efforts 
of Jonathan Edwards had failed signally, and only at Yale College 
in Connecticut was there any longer a premium on Calvinist 
orthodoxy in New England. The time had long gone when the 
Puritan priests could hope that their influence would be restored 
by automatic consent that theirs was a mystical authority abso- 
lute and pervasive. From the somewhat strained device of the 
"halfway covenant" an implement that permitted those who 
could show no evidence of the regeneration necessary to full com- 
munion to become "half members" of the church, thus preserving 
its organizational strength in the face of its waning spiritual 



authority the old ecclesiasticism had never recovered. Since the 
halfway covenant permitted the baptizing of the children of half 
members, infant baptism had already become an empty formalism; 
and with the failure of the short-lived revival movement, the 
"Great Awakening/ 3 the churches as a whole had serious likelihood 
of going the same way. The alternative, of course, was their be- 
coming progressive social forces in a world, not of doctrine, but of 
tidal realities. It is not insignificant that, first with John Hancock 
and later with Jonas Clarke, this was the road taken by the Church 
of Christ in Lexington. 

A less subtle and generally less powerful force that tended to 
unite the dissenting clergy against the strengthening of ties 
with Britain was the abhorrence of an American episcopate. The 
Church of England had grown alarmingly in New England during 
the eighteenth century, and it had moreover attracted an increas- 
ingly impressive following from the upper classes of the larger 
towns. Its position throughout the rest of the colonies was, of 
course, exceptionally strong. It was the established church in many 
places, including the thriving city of New York, and the only 
church of any size and influence among the aristocracy of the 
South. As the number of Anglican clergy grew and the incon- 
venience of a long voyage to London for ordination became more 
general, fears mounted in the dissenting minds of the nonconform- 
ists that a bishop might be sent to America. The combination of 
bishops and royal governors conjured up visions of twin assaults 
upon traditional, if in some respects illusory, religious and civil 
liberties. And the Puritan clergy knew enough, by way of century- 
old experiment of their own, of the grip that combined religious 
and civE authority could have on a people. Even though there was 
no probability of an American episcopate, the bare possibility 
loomed as the final blow to the local power of the nonconformist 
clergy in their towns and in the province : ". . every poor parson 
whose head has never felt the weight of a bishop's hand will soon 



know the power of his pastoral staff, and the arm of the magistrate 
into the bargain." 3 

The fears of an episcopate were almost entirely political: the 
theological dispute about the practices and doctrines of the Church 
of England, including the necessity of bishops to preserve the 
apostolic succession, had long since died out from sheer lack of 
interest. Neither Jonas Clarke nor his predecessor Hancock showed 
much sensitivity to the old doctrinal disputes. Old Hancock had 
loved to be called "Bishop" and felt that he was fully entitled to 
it, because he had participated in so many ordinations, at one of 
which he made the startling suggestion that "He that desires the 
office of a bishop desires a good work." 4 And Jonas Clarke felt no 
qualms about restoring to the drab Calvinist services some of the 
very features of the Anglican liturgy that his forebears had found 
so repugnant. 5 But the political fears of the Anglican church were 
a different matter; it was enough that the Church of England, 
the monarchy and the Parliament were in league. The basic 
ingredient of the covenant, on the other hand, was the idea 
of the consent of the governed the Puritan church itself holding 
that its authority over its members was derived only from their 
voluntary compact to submit themselves to its authority. 

The extension of the idea of the covenant to all political institu- 
tions was not a difficult thing for Jonas Clarke and those of his 
generation at Harvard who had been steeped in John Locke and 
gone to school to President Holyoke. An enlightened cleric of re- 
markable and prophetic political insight, Holyoke was, like Jona- 
than Mayhew and Charles Chauncey, an articulate critic of the old 
Calvinism and the abortive attempt to revive it in the 1 7405. "In 
whatsoever churches of Christ there is made use of external force 
and compulsion in these regards, so far they are gone off from the 
simplicity that is in Christ . . . The ministers have no right to 
impose their interpretations of the laws of Christ upon their 
flocks . . . Every man therefore is the judge for him In these 
things. . . . 3>e This libertarian theology, which must have had 



the Mathers spinning in their graves, was matched by the presi- 
dent's political philosophy. As early as 1736, long before there 
was any political conflict with England, President Holyoke had 
used language amazingly close to that of the Declaration of In- 
dependence forty years later: "All forms of government originate 
from the people ... As these forms then have originated from the 
people, doubtless they may be changed whensoever the body of 
them choose to make such an alteration." 7 

In the pulpit of West Church in Boston, Jonathan Mayhew, two 
months before his death, paid unabashed tribute to the one love of 
a fervid Me: "Having also from my childhood up ... been ed- 
ucated to the love of liberty ... I would not I cannot now, 
though past middle age relinquish the fair object of my youthful 
affection. Liberty, whose charms, instead of decaying with time in 
my eyes, have daily captivated more and more." 8 

Edward Holyoke's teachings left a permanent impression on 
Jonas Clarke, which became clearly visible when Clarke as- 
sumed leadership in the town of Lexington's response to the new 
British colonial policy. So ingrained was Clarke's idea of political 
freedom that Lexington's protest of the first major tax measure 
of Parliament, the Stamp Act, disposed of its economic effects in 
one vague paragraph and treated, with magnificent reasoning, 
its political implications, opening "a door to numberless evils, 
which time only can discover," 9 in twelve precise paragraphs that 
anticipated by a century such political philosophers as John 
Stuart Mill. The Stamp Act, passed by Parliament on Grenville's 
recommendation in 1765, was to go into effect one year later. At 
the urging of Clarke the town of Lexington voted that its selectmen 
write instructions to its representative in the General Court of the 
colony for protesting the act. The instructions turned up in Clarke's 

Actually, the Stamp Act in itself would have little direct eco- 
nomic effect upon a village of small farmers. It was directed 
largely at the commercial classes who were most able to pay, and 


Grenville had thought it to be by far the least obnoxious sort of 
tax: "It will fall only on property, will be collected by the fewest 
officers . . . does not require any number of officers vested with 
extraordinary powers of entering houses. . . ." 10 The Stamp Act 
provided for a tax on legal and commercial documents, few of 
which ever passed through the hands of a Lexingtonian, and on 
printed materials, hardly of decisive economic importance in a 
town that had no newspaper or printer. Clarke's concern with 
the act was almost entirely with constitutional questions, and the 
instructions that he wrote for the selectmen were more suggestive 
of a judicial opinion than a material protest, with some obiter dicta 
at the outset that appear to have been addressed less to the minister 
in London than to the townspeople of Lexington: "We have 
always looked upon men as a set of beings naturally free: And it 
is a truth, which the history of the ages and the common experience 
of mankind have fully confirmed, that a people can never be 
divested of those invaluable rights and liberties which are necessary 
to the happiness of individuals, to the well-being of communities or 
to a well regulated state, but by their own negligence, imprudence, 
timidity or rashness. They are seldom lost, but when foolishly for- 
feited or tamely resigned. 3 ' 11 Aside from its general validity as 
political doctrine, this also served to remind Clarke's townsmen 
that, however remote the effects of an individual Parliamentary act 
so far as they were concerned, it could establish a precedent, create 
a pattern, for the erosion of their fundamental freedoms if they 
were not alert in recognizing incursions upon them. 

Clarke then proceeded to anatomize the act on constitutional 
grounds. It violated the charter, which provided that taxes could 
be imposed upon the colony only by its own legislative assembly. 
It violated the ancient right of British subjects to be taxed only 
with their own consent. It was passed without a hearing, even 
though respectful petitions had been prepared and dispatched to 
London. It deprived the colonists of trial by jury, by providing 
that violators of the act would be tried in admiralty courts before 



judges only. It violated two essential principles of Magna Charta : 
indictments by the oath of honest men of one's neighborhood and 
trials by one's peers. And it spawned such evils as the inevitable 
rise of a class of informers, paid to report violators, and the cutting 
off of any means of redress against unjust accusations and convic- 

By his skilled diagnosis of the issues evoked by an act of seem- 
ingly little relevance to the lives of the people of his little com- 
munity, Jonas Clarke achieved much. He drew the town deeply 
and creditably into a great and historic debate. He accustomed it 
to the idea and practice of acting on the broad political stage that 
extended beyond town affairs. He hit upon an effective and 
dramatic method of political education. He shaped attitudes and 
molded public opinion by addressing the papers of the town as 
much to its own inhabitants as to obnoxious ministers beyond the 

One by one, as Parliament passed new acts affecting the colonies, 
the town of Lexington appointed committees to deal with them. 
One by one, they were scrutinized by Jonas Clarke in his study 
and dissected in long, closely reasoned papers later adopted by 
the committees as constituting the opinion of the town which 
indeed they did after they had been read, discussed, and endorsed 
at the town meetings. In 1768, though not a British soldier had 
appeared in Lexington, it was declared that the keeping of a 
standing army in the province to enforce the acts of Parliament 
was "an infringement of their natural, constitutional and 
chartered rights." 12 At the same meeting a Committee of 
Correspondence was appointed to work with similar committees 
throughout the province, particularly that of Boston. Three of 
the five committeemen named were deacons in Jonas Clarke's 
church. In 1773, w h ei * Boston resisted the effort to land tea 
discriminatively taxed, the inhabitants of Lexington resolved that 
anybody in the town who purchased or consumed any tea "shall 
be looked upon as an enemy to this town and to this country, and 



shall by this town be treated with neglect and contempt." 13 In 
1774, as conditions in Boston worsened with the closing of the 
port and the passing of other coercive measures to enforce the acts 
of Parliament, although still without any material effect upon 
Lexington, the town concluded, under the guidance of Jonas 
Clarke, that the time had come to prepare far rebellion. 

Revolution in the minds of the people of Lexington had already 
been almost fully achieved. The revolt was of a philosophic 
nature, skillfully and positively phrased in philosophic terms and 
on the whole neither inflammatory nor overly emotional in either 
content or language. The public papers of Lexington, tracing the 
evolution of the town's opinion, are great state papers, written in 
the neat orderly hand of Jonas Clarke; and they paralleled, when 
they did not actually anticipate, the great papers of the colonies as 
a federation. In the opinion of Lexington there was little doubt 
left that Britain by her acts had shattered her own traditions, 
dating from the barons at Runnymede, of a free society. In the 
Coercive Acts of 1774 (which, in addition to closing the port of 
Boston, revoked the Massachusetts charter, transferred trials to 
England or to other colonies, and quartered soldiers on the inhab- 
itants without their permission) the people of Lexington saw the 
revolution as really one launched by the British Parliament 
against a wholly British heritage. And in their minds the movement 
in the colonies, all their acts and resolves, was a counterrevolution 
to restore centuries-old freedoms and safeguards against tyranny. 
There was much to be said both historically and logically for this 
view, with its striking similarity to the original Puritanic anti- 
separatist attitude toward the Church of England. Puritans were 
reformers, by nature and conviction, and not revolutionists. 

But it was clear to Jonas Clarke and thus to his townsmen, as 
events progressed, that no debate of the issues was to lead to any 
final solution. The ministry of Lord North was proceeding as if 
it had nothing but contempt for colonial opinion and was bankrupt 
of any expedient but force. The reaction in Lexington was in- 



evitable. Having already concluded, "We shall be ready to sac- 
rifice our estates and everything dear in life, yea and life itself, in 
support of the common cause," 14 they voted at last, abandoning 
faith in the power of reason for the comfort of practical measures, 
to strengthen their arms and militia with "a suitable quantity of 
flints . . . two pieces of cannon ... a pair of drums . . . bay- 
onets." 15 Then they elected a delegate John Parker's cousin, 
Jonas Stone to the First Provincial Congress, an extra-legal 
body, formed without authority, after General Gage had canceled 
the stated meeting of the General Court, to serve as a forum and 
an agency for united action by all the towns of the colony. 


Skilled as he was in political theory and in its articulation, the 
Reverend Jonas Clarke was also enough of a realist to have known 
from the beginning that reason did not always prevail. And though 
there was little militancy in Lexington's attitude all during the 
war of opinion against Britain, Clarke had carefully laid the 
rationale for military preparedness, if it ever became a necessary 
or prudent step. As early as 1768 he pointed out significantly that 
"where courage, valour or fortitude has reason for its basis," it 
enables men "to face the greatest dangers, to stand the severest 
shocks, to meet undaunted and serene the charge of the most formi- 
dable enemy and all the horrors of war." 16 He counted upon the 
men of Lexington, under appropriate guidance, to rise to the 

The men of Lexington did. There were about a hundred and 
seventy males over sixteen in the town, and they organized them- 
selves into alarm list, militia, and minutemen. 

In the colonies, from the time of the first settlements, all able- 
bodied men were required to bear arms. During the seventeenth 
century this was such an obvious necessity to guard against ma- 
rauding Indians that it was. assumed to be a normal and automatic 


concomitant of growing up. Ordinarily, the men simply kept a 
watchful eye only on their own houses and lands; but they were 
organized, with officers commissioned by the King, were required 
to stand inspection at least once a year, and were subject to calls 
for active duty in expeditionary forces in the Indian wars and later 
in the wars with the French. The annual musters became festive 
local holidays in the eighteenth century, since every family was 
involved. They all came to town from the surrounding country- 
side, lined up with their muskets and powder horns, executed some 
awkward drills, listened to the pastor preach a sermon, and spent 
the rest of the day in eating and drinking. Any efficiency in marks- 
manship that they acquired they developed on their own, and as 
fighters they were a wholly individualistic breed, not accustomed 
to volley firing and used to finding their own vantage points, 
selecting their own targets and priming, loading and firing at 
their own pace and discretion. The nature of the warfare against 
both the Indians and the French in the North American wilderness 
encouraged the preservation of such practices even when the 
militia was incorporated into the British field armies. For the most 
part, when at home the men furnished their own arms and ammu- 
nition, and the wearing of uniforms would have struck them as 
both unnecessary and of no practical use whatever. 

Their officers had been commissioned by the royal governor on 
behalf of the crown, but except when the men of the militia were 
off to the wars the officers meant nothing to them. Military titles, 
therefore, were not scarce in Lexington. John Parker's father was 
known as Lieutenant, although his political activities seem to have 
been more considerable than his military services. Some of the 
officers had participated in the campaigns of the French and 
Indian wars and, in addition to being resourceful fighters, had 
shown impressive qualities of leadership. The Munroe family 
was particularly noted in Lexington for its military achievements 
and furnished several officers in the French wars. Edmund Munroe 
was adjutant of the regiment in Rogers' Rangers; Robert Munroe 



bore the standard at the capture of Louisburg; and Abraham 
Munroe served as a lieutenant. 

Whenever it had taken to the field, the Lexington militia had 
fought in the service of the King. But when General Gage can- 
celed the legislative session of the General Court in the fall of 
1774, the militia considered itself dissolved. It was succeeded by 
the military organizations set tip by the Committee of Safety on 
the recommendation of the Provincial Congress, which by some 
legal straining declared itself the lawful successor of the General 

In carrying out the Provincial Congress's aim to create an 
armed force outside the jurisdiction of the British authorities, 
Lexington and the other towns of Massachusetts took a poll of 
their manpower and divided it into two bodies: the alarm lists 
and the militia. Somewhat eclectic in its references to old laws, the 
Congress concluded that the ancient legislation requiring all able- 
bodied men to bear arms gave it sufficient authority for creating 
this general pool of manpower. At first the alarm lists consisted of 
all men able to move and to assume responsibility. Later only the 
older men, young boys, and the less agile were in the alarm lists. 
The rest were in the militia, the combat forces. From this an elite 
company of the more active men, called minutemen, was formed 
to be ready, at a moment's notice, to march on orders of the 
Committee of Safety or, in cases of emergency, on those of their 
own officers. Meanwhile, the militia was a reserve force, and the 
alarm list furnished manpower for watch duty and other chores at 
the sound of an alarm. Often, however, they acted simply as 
guerrilla fighters whenever they felt like it and unquestionably took 
part in the very early fighting of the war. 

Captain John Parker's Lexington company of minutemen num- 
bered slightly over a hundred men and officers. During the winter 
of 1774-75, th 6 towft had acquired powder, musket balls, and 
some muskets. William Diamond had learned how to beat the 
battle calls on the town's newly purchased drum. The company 



had elected its officers, headed by Captain Parker, "a stout, large- 
framed man of medium height. 53 His chief aide, also elected by 
the company, was Lieutenant William Tidd, thirty-eight, who was 
married to the daughter of Robert Munroe, the old veteran of 
the French wars who had carried the standard at Louisburg. 
Robert Munroe himself, despite his sixty-three years, was elected 
third in command with the title of ensign. The second ensign was 
Joseph Simonds, thirty-five, who had served on some of the town 
committees that dealt with the oppressive acts of Parliament. All 
three of his commissioned officers were kinsmen of Captain Parker, 
and so was about one third of his company. The clerk of the 
company was Daniel Harrington, whose house faced on the 
Common and who, like Lieutenant Tidd, was a son-in-law of old 
Ensign Munroe. 

Of Captain Parker's non-commissioned officers, Orderly Ser- 
geant William Munroe, the young proprietor of Munroe's Tavern 
on the road to Cambridge and Boston, was the most enterprising: 
he was to have the busiest and most ubiquitous time of all the 
military men in Lexington on the night of April eighteenth. He 
appears to have felt himself authorized to make decisions inde- 
pendently of the commissioned officers. Eventually he became 
a colonel, and apparently he well deserved it. There were two 
other sergeants of the company: Francis Brown, who was to suc- 
ceed Parker as commander of the company, and Ebenezer White, 
the tHrty-tibree-year-old father of four children, the youngest of 
whom was born the week before the muster of April nineteenth. 
Four corporals were also chosen by the company: Joel Viles, the 
town's hog reeve; Samuel Sanderson, who was married to one of 
the Munroes; John Munroe, the youngest son of the ensign; and 
Ebenezer Parker, at twenty-four the youngest of the officers. 

Nearly all of Captain Parker's minutemen were farmers, al- 
though some of them also practiced trades ^blacksmiths, wheel- 
wrights, clockmakers. Among the hundred and four were a dozen 
f ather-and-son combinations. There was one slave in the company, 



Prince Estabrook, said to have been the son of an African tribal 
chief. There were also two men who owned slaves, including 
Lieutenant Tidd. Although slavery was dying in Lexington, largely 
because it was not hereditary in Massachusetts, it was still not un- 
common in 1775. The town had voted in 1728 to give the Rever- 
end John Hancock 85 to buy a slave, and Captain Parker's 
mother's family were slaveholders. 17 Several slaves, like Prince 
Estabrook, served long in the Revolutionary armies, many of them 
like him winning their freedom for their service. 

In the spring of 1775, Captain Parker had little that he could 
do to make a military unit of his company of rninutemen. Spring 
had come early to Lexington, and the plowing was already under- 
way. This kept the men at home and busy from sunrise to sunset. 
There was no guard duty to perform in Lexington, because the 
town contained no military stores, had no loyalists or Tories in it, 
and was in no danger of riots or internal uprisings. Gunpowder 
was in such short supply and used so sparingly that musket practice 
was out of the question. And there would have been little purpose 
and less grace in Captain Parker's marching his men around the 
Common in close-order drill. Consequently, musters of the minute- 
men were limited to one or two occasions in the spring, mainly to 
see how long it took the minutemen to get to the Common. Once 
there they cocked their unloaded muskets, snapped the flintlocks 
once or twice, and then adjourned to Buckman's Tavern for some 
rum before the trek home again. 

The central military problem of the province in the spring of 
1775 was not manpower but powder. In the previous September, 
General Gage had moved most of the powder stores from Cam- 
bridge, where they would have been readily accessible to the 
colonists, to the comparative safety of Boston. What the several 
towns had already drawn from the stores before Gage got around 
to their removal was pitifully small in amount, but enough, it 
carefully used, to give the provincial militia some effectiveness. The 
amount and distribution of the colonists' supply of powder and 



arms were reported regularly to Gage by Dr. Benjamin Church, 
a member of the Provincial Congress and of its directorate, the 
Committee of Safety, who sold the information to finance an 
expensive mistress in Boston. Meanwhile, however, the colonists 
had been smuggling munitions out of Boston under the very noses 
of Gage's troops. They simply loaded the stores into wagons, 
covered them with hay or manure, and drove out over the Neck 
to the countryside. Church told Gage about this, too, and a stop 
was put to it before much had been gained. Powder was still 
critically scarce in the provincial towns. 

If Captain Parker had any special problem, then, as April came, 
it was not with his men, all of whom he knew very well and on 
whom he could fully rely. It was gunpowder. However, even this 
was of little immediate concern, for, so far as he knew, the 
Lexington minutemen were going nowhere. He had received but 
one order, dated March 30, 1775, from the only authority behind 
the existence of his company, the Provincial Congress, meeting five 
miles away in Concord. ". . . whenever the army under com- 
mand of General Gage, or any part thereof to the number of five 
hundred, shall march out of the town of Boston, with artillery 
and baggage, it ought to be deemed a design to carry into execution 
by force the late acts of Parliament, the attempting which, by the 
resolve of the late honourable Continental Congress, ought to be 
opposed; and therefore the military force of the Province ought 
to be assembled, and an army of observation immediately formed, 
to act solely on the defensive so long as it can be justified on the 
principles of reason and self-preservation. . . .' n8 

Back on his farm, some two miles from Lexington Common, 
Captain Parker went about his main business, preparing the fields 
for the spring planting. Jonas Clarke undoubtedly kept him gen- 
erally informed on the proceedings at Concord, where the Pro- 
vincial Congress remained in session until April fifteenth, discussing 
the thorny question of how to get the other colonies to show more 


spirited resistance to the British and align themselves more actively 
with Massachusetts, Captain Parker was to do more to accomplish 
this in a few hours than the Provincial Congress was able to 
achieve in weeks. 


"The liberties of all alike are invaded by the 
same haughty power." 


In April 1775 the Reverend Jonas Clarke was forty-four years 
old and had been pastor of the Church of Christ in Lexington for 
twenty of them. If, in the minds of the sixteen members of the 
congregation who had voted against calling him to Lexington, 
there had been doubts about the likelihood of his ever filling 
adequately the shoes of old Bishop Hancock, they were by now 
thoroughly dispelled. Jonas Clarke was in 1775 an impressive 
presence indeed. A great man in size with a massive head, he 
attired himself in a gown, cassock, and band for his pulpit appear- 
ances and wore a huge white wig that gave him a magisterial 
aspect. Eloquent and endowed with a voice of thunderous 
volume, he could be heard on Sundays across the Common in the 
rooms of Buckman's Tavern and in the surrounding meadows. 
Although he never ignored his ecclesiastical duties, he had become 
more and more immersed in the political conflicts of his time, and 
he was a respected confidant of the leaders of the Provincial 



The old Hancock house, up the Bedford road a few blocks from 
the Common, was no longer dominated by old Mrs. Hancock 
who had died in 1 760, three years after Clarke had moved in with 
her granddaughter as his bride. It was now dominated by Clarke. 
His first son had died in infancy, but ten other children had 
followed in good order all of them healthy and active. Every 
morning Clarke's voice boomed throughout the house, as he stood 
at the foot of the stairs and bellowed, "Polly, Betsey, Lucy, Liddy, 
Patty, Sally, Thomas, Jonas, William, Peter get up! 532 Having 
organized his populous household and his farm as efficiently as 
his parish, he found the time to write prodigiously. In addition to 
producing some three thousand sermons, each of an hour's length, 
he kept a long and detailed journal and wrote scores of public 
papers. He must also have imposed a stern discipline on his host of 
children. The Hancock-Clarke house had altogether only eight 
rooms, and the children ranged from sixteen years down to five 
months in age a fertile situation for the development of complete 
chaos if there had been no firm rules. 

Clarke also took the leading part in the education of his older 
children and helped to prepare some of the Lexington boys for 
Harvard. The little school on the Common was temporarily closed 
in 1775 for economy reasons, and the town's "women schools," 
which the younger children attended, taught only elementary 
reading, writing, and arithmetic. 3 This left the town without a 
schoolmaster, a void into which the energetic Clarke willingly 
stepped so far as candidates for Harvard went. His house also 
contained the town's most extensive library, which he made freely 
available to all who wanted to borrow books. Often, the Hancock- 
Clarke house's usual population of twelve was swollen to a score 
or more by townspeople there on public business or to advance 
their learning, political or clerical visitors from Boston or Cam- 
bridge, or by Clarke's father and mother, who journeyed the 
twenty-five miles from Hopkinton for long visits. 

Presiding over the functional aspects of this busy household was 



Clarke's competent wife, Lucy. During an age in which the bury- 
ing grounds were full of tiny headstones memorializing the deaths 
of small children one of Captain Parker's minutemen, Abijah 
Childs, lost six in twelve days Lucy Clarke was to rear twelve 
of thirteen. Cooking over the open fires of an incredibly small 
fireplace in the great kitchen of the house, she prepared meals for 
thirty-six a day, laundered for at least twelve people, made clothes 
for most of them, kept the house clean, and, during the long 
hours of her husband's writing in his small study off the kitchen, 
kept the children quiet. 

Into this sufficiently quiet household in the spring of 1775 there 
came in pairs a quartet of distinguished visitors, not just to call, but 
to live for an unpredictable period. Before they left, there was a 
population of twenty in the house and an armed guard of ten 
around it. And the home of the Reverend Jonas Clarke, one of 
the most persuasive apologists of the Revolution, became a center 
of great public affairs, much to the satisfaction of Clarke, who 
shortly found himself participating in discussions of the most 
critical importance with the political leaders of the province hi 
his own study. 

To one of the visitors, however strained the circumstances, it 
was a homecoming of sorts. John Hancock, thirty-eight, Treasurer 
of Harvard College, President of the Provincial Congress, Chair- 
man of the Committee of Safety, richest merchant in Boston and 
probably the richest man in Massachusetts, was like Jonas 
Clarke's wife a grandchild of old Bishop Hancock. Of the 
bishop's three sons, two John the second and Ebenezer had 
been graduated from Harvard and entered the ministry. Ebenezer 
was settled at Lexington as associate of his father, with the promise 
of succession on his father's death, according to terms arrived at 
after some rather rough bargaining with the parish by the bishop; 
but the son died twelve years before his father did, so that it all 
went for nothing. The other clerical son, the second Reverend 
John Hancock, served three years as librarian of Harvard College 



and then became pastor of the church at Braintree, where the 
venerable bishop also made the financial arrangements. Unlike the 
Reverend Ebenezer, the Braintree Hancock married, and lie sired 
three children, one of whom was John Hancock, the future patriot ; 
but like the Reverend Ebenezer, the Reverend John also died before 
the bishop, leaving young John orphaned at the age of eight. 

The boy was taken in charge by the bishop's third and surviving 
son, Thomas Hancock, a childless Boston merchant of immense 
wealth and flexible ethics. The Hancock mansion stood on 
Beacon Hill overlooking Boston Common., and it was the most 
elaborate establishment in Boston, for Thomas Hancock was in- 
ordinately fond of extravagant display. Thomas Hancock had left 
his father's Lexington parsonage at the age of fourteen to become 
apprenticed to a Boston bookbinder and drifted after a while into 
the export-import business. Bred to the toughest mercantile prac- 
tices of his era, Thomas Hancock was a smuggler, a profiteer who 
sold contaminated meat to the army during the French wars, and 
a shrewd and merciless destroyer of competition. Although he 
amassed enormous riches, there was something missing from his 
life the respect of Ms fellows so manifestly enjoyed by his 
reverend father and brothers. This Thomas Hancock sought to 
achieve by display. His agents in London were instructed to get 
him the finest coaches, clothes, house furnishings, and even a coat 
of aims all of which ostentation accomplished the exact opposite 
of what Thomas Hancock had had in mind and made him a some- 
what ridiculous figure. Because he inherited his uncle's egregious 
sense of display along with his fortune, young John Hancock was 
to be dogged all his days by a total lack of prudence in exhibiting 
his wealth. 

Young John Hancock was graduated from Harvard, learned 
the finer points of the free-booting trading of the eighteenth 
century, and basked agreeably in the surface elegance of his 
uncle's establishment. He was superficial, impressionable, self- 
centered, and always excessively concerned with, whether or not 



other people valued Mm sufficiently highly. During his boyhood he 
had made regular visits to his grandfather's Lexington parsonage, 
the major part of which had been built by his rich uncle, probably 
as a penance but ostensibly as a gift to his father. After the old 
bishop's death and while his grandmother was still alive, young 
John Hancock made periodic duty pilgrimages to Lexington; but 
later he seldom saw the provincial towns. His was the life of a 
rich young man in Boston, where he alternated between life in 
his uncle's mansion under the watchful eye of his possessive Aunt 
Lydia and the waterfront where he kept a middle-aged mistress. 
Then, when he was twenty-six, his uncle died and made him heir 
designate to a fabulous fortune and the immediate object of the 
unshakable matriarchal rule of his aunt, Lydia Henchman 

After his uncle's death Hancock, known widely and solely as 
Thomas Hancock's favored nephew, sought a character of his own. 
Without the acumen and drive of his uncle, he was a man of more 
varied endowments, genuinely generous in nature, and of a flexibil- 
ity that was often his salvation. Although his intellectual capacity 
was limited and his impressionableness almost childish, he was 
aware of other worlds than the noisy turmoil of the Boston trading 
circles. He started to practice a certain amount of spontaneous 
philanthropies, including wholesale relief for the homeless after 
the great Boston fire of 1767; the purchase of church pews for 
widows ; bells, pulpits, and Bibles for meetinghouses; a collection of 
books for Harvard, and a concert hall for Boston. In good time 
he became the Treasurer of Harvard College, a trust not conferred 
lightly by the canny guardians of the college funds. He also became 
captain of the Independent Corps of Cadets, with the rank of 
colonel, and thus commanded the honor guard of the royal gover- 
nors. This furnished him not only with a title but with an opportu- 
nity to indulge his love of elegant dress. He had his tailors in 
London devise the most magnificent regimentals the colony had 
ever seen, bought new uniforms for the entire corps, and hired 



two master filers to play at drills. For the rest, he managed the 
business left him by his uncle with only moderate competence. His 
towering vanity brought about recurring breaks with his agents 
overseas. His speculations turned out to have none of the diabolic 
genius of his late uncle. His interest in commerce kept flagging as 
he sought new ways to impress himself upon the people of Boston 
as a great man. In this he was more successful than he had been in 
the commercial lif e, for public events were on his side and a man 
named Samuel Adams could use him. 

When John Hancock, at the age of thirty-eight, and Samuel 
Adams, fifty-two, presented themselves at Jonas Clarke's house for 
their indeterminate stay in March 1775, while the Provincial 
Congress met in Concord, they offered a dramatic study in con- 
trasts that a decade of working together and occasional squabbles 
had not diminished. Hancock was handsome and elegant; Adams 
was dumpy and palsied. Hancock was so splendidly attired it took 
several trunks to carry his clothes; Adams was so seedy that his 
friends had to buy him decent clothes for public appearances. 
Hancock was capricious, shortsighted; Adams was clearheaded, 
farsighted. Hancock was in vacillating search of fame; Adams was 
in consecrated pursuit of a cause. Hancock was the most important 
thing in his world; Adams the least in his. With Hancock the 
political life was a way to achieve a popularity he desperately 
needed; with Adams politics was a means of bringing about the 
salvation of the new world. Hancock urbane, vain, shallow, 
irresolute, a little frivolous; Adams simple, plodding, astute, de- 
termined, somewhat somber. Hancock, the splendid poser; Adams, 
the stolid true believer. Hancock, the used; Adams, the user. 

When they arrived on Clarke's threshold, the major thing they 
had in common was a problem: where did the Revolution still 
a revolution of opinion and not of action go from there? The 
Provincial Congress was sitting in Concord passing resolutions 
and urging actions that had little hope of being carried out 
generally in the colony. The Committee of Safety was functioning 


Jonas Clarke (ij 30 1805), for half a century pastor and first 
citizen of Lexington^ was the author of the town's major 
political papers from the condemnation of the Stamp Act in 
1765 to the condemnation of Jay's Treaty in 1794. LEXINGTON 


Samuel Adam* (1722-1803) was most effective as an agitator, 
kept the Revolutionary spirit alive for a decade before Lex- 
ington, after which he steadily declined in influence. He and 
Hancock became intensely antagonistic in local politics in 
Massachusetts, Adams succeeding Hancock as governor on the 
latter's death in 1793, MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON 

John Hancock (IT 36-93) 3 embittered by the choice of Wash- 
ington over himself as commander in chief,, was a man of 
theatrical vanity and limited intellect. After 1777 he confined 
his activities to local politics in Massachusetts, where he refused 
as governor to welcome President Washington in ij8<) unless 
the President first called on him. Washington sent him a sharp 
note which changed his views of protocol MUSEUM OF FINE 


Paul Revere (1335-1818) was in 7775 a forty-year-old silver- 
smith. Employed as a courier for the Boston Committee of Cor- 
respondence, Revere was also a self-starting patriot who often 
undertook patrolling duties on his own initiative. MUSEUM OF 



as a sort of executive cabinet, but It had no real authority or power 
except through whatever persuasion it could exercise. There was 
not the remotest semblance of a united spirit throughout the 
colonies. The First Continental Congress since the Stamp Act 
the first united forum of the colonies, which Adams had attended 
in Philadelphia six months earlier seemed to him infested with 
"half-way patriots" intent on reconciliation with Great Britain, 
until he himself, by some masterly strategems, had wrested it 
from the control of the "conservatives" ; but the colonies at large 
were nevertheless startled by its mildly separatist economic con- 
clusions, and there were some wide fears that what the Bostonians 
wanted was separation from England so that they could run all the 
colonies themselves. Samuel Adams had returned to Boston quite 
dissatisfied with the general feeling of the Continental Congress 
that by purely economic measures the colonies could bring about a 
reversal of British policy. 

A mere reversal of British policy was not what interested Adams. 
Born into a family of means, Samuel Adams was himself a failure 
in commercial life, dissipating his legacy from his father and 
making an insoluble mess of his job as tax collector of Boston. 
His sole genius was in political manipulation, and he rose to 
commanding power during the early days of the struggle with 
Britain. He managed to give direction and purpose to popularist 
groups in Boston, who had previously just been against the wealthy 
classes who were running things. And as the gap between the 
colony and Britain widened, he cemented these groups, many 
of whom had battled each other literally in the streets of 
Boston, into the nucleus of a liberty party. Into them he 
had breathed the spirit of revolution. For ten years he had neg- 
lected even to support his family in order to labor to keep that 
spirit alive, and he had no intention of seeing it puffed out by 
the cautions of the first Continental Congress. The economic 
paralysis brought about by the Coercive Acts in Boston, the 
financial burden of novel taxes, and the other economic troubles 



of the times were to Adams only symptoms of a deeper, more 
important rift involving the essentials of political morality. He 
was firmly convinced that Great Britain was a depraved society, 
corrupt in religion, corrupt in politics, corrupt in values. Unlike 
some of his countrymen's, his concept of the issue was never so 
particularized that it could be reduced to slogans. Taxation with- 
out representation was abhorrent enough to him, but he could 
never see it as the crux of the matter, and the cure of colonial rep- 
resentation in Parliament never interested him. At Philadelphia 
he wrecked completely the scheme of Joseph Galloway, Speaker 
of the Pennsylvania Assembly, to establish a kind of domestic 
parliament in the colonies that would legislate jointly with the 
British Parliament on colonial affairs. Although he bided his 
time in announcing it, he was interested only in total, complete 

Fanatic as he undoubtedly was, Samuel Adams was also a 
political realist of the keenest insight. He knew a great deal about 
men's minds, and he was easily the most gifted man of his times 
in understanding and manipulating the group mind. He knew that 
when all the oratory was done and all the great thinking expressed, 
all that they achieved was the definition of objectives. To achieve 
the objectives themselves, it was necessary to consolidate in one 
line of action groups that had little in common but could be made 
to have a common intent. The accomplishment of this strategy of 
revolution was Samuel Adams' single-minded purpose and his 
everlasting monument. 


In his long and persistent effort Samuel Adams made use of 
every person, every prejudice, every element, every fear, and 
every aspiration in colonial society. By patient, skillful, strong- 
minded, and often ruthless work he finally welded together forces 
of such dynamic drive that it is difficult to believe that any of his 



contemporaries fully understood them. Into these forces he drew 
the young merchant prince John Hancock at an early date, en- 
couraging and flattering him when it was desirable and cracking 
down heavily on him when it was necessary, but always using 
him. To Hancock it was enough that he was becoming more than 
a merchant: he was becoming a statesman in time of crisis. 

Up until the March meeting of the Provincial Congress in 
Concord, to which Adams and Hancock were commuting from 
Jonas Clarke's house, the road to revolution had been full of 
barriers, bumps and detours. Hancock was so uncertain that at 
times he gravitated toward the Tories, and he could never get 
over a feeling of awe toward royal governors. But Adams always 
got him back on the road again and finally down it so far that 
there could be no turning back. By 1775 he was the only man 
singled out by the ministry in London as the equal of Samuel 
Adams in obnoxiousness, and Gage had been sent orders to arrest 
both Hancock and Adams. 

To Adams the distinction was hard-won. A decade, sometimes 
turbulent and sometimes so somnolent that only Adams seemed to 
care, had gone by since Samuel Adams first came into alliance with 
any considerable groups in Boston on the passage of the Stamp 
Act, and from then on he never let the issues evoked by the act 
lapse from public awareness for a moment even though at times 
there were few listening. Elected to the General Court during the 
economic uneasiness of 1765, he put little faith in the slow, legis- 
lative route to political reform. When a Continental Congress 
was proposed in 1774, he said that "from the length of time it 
will take to bring it to pass, I fear it cannot answer for the present 
emergency." 4 He saw his seat in the General Court as useful 
chiefly as a spot from which to hurl harpoons at the royal governor. 
He put far greater faith in the Boston mobs, who were ever ready 
to attack authority, colonial as well as royal. Adams, in bringing 
the mobs together, gave them a sense of responsible and creditable 
purpose and saw to it that they concentrated on such worth- 



while objectives as the new "stamp masters 5 ' and resident officers 
of the crown. It is no exaggeration to say that Adams' mobs 
nullified the Stamp Act by scaring the stamp masters out of town. 
He then blandly announced in the General Court that obviously 
the life of Boston could not come to a halt just because there was 
no one around to furnish the stamped papers for legal and com- 
mercial documents; so the British Parliament repealed the act as 

Adams had hit upon a technique of dramatic violence that he 
never abandoned. He used it again and again, always at an op- 
portune time and always with masterful effect not least of which 
was the mobs' inciting the British troops to fire on a group of 
mobsters in 1770, creating the long politically useful Boston 
Massacre. Although Samuel Adams' cousin, John Adams, the 
most disciplined of the minds of the period, could not stomach that 
episode and served as defense counsel for the soldiers, the Boston 
Massacre was the longest lived myth in American history. More- 
over, it gave a fiery emotional content to a dispute that had until 
then been economic and theoretic. Its anniversary was observed 
in skillfully stage-managed ceremonies, which took broad liberties 
with the facts, in churches and assembly places of the colony for a 
decade until independence was won. Throughout the immediate 
pre-Revolutionary period, Boston was indeed virtually controlled 
by the mobs. And the mobs were controlled by Samuel Adams. He 
understood their members as individuals, and he had mastered the 
strange alchemy by which the mob becomes both more and less 
than the sum of the individuals. 

As Adams took the low road to political leadership, Hancock, 
whose business interests were having a hard enough time without 
tax innovations, took the high road. He was elected to the General 
Court, too, and Samuel Adams, recognizing him as an ideal symbol 
of respectability and broad commercial interests to identify with 
the revolutionary movement, got him introduced to the mobs and 
lionized by the two leading mobs, once deadly rivals, at a peace 



feast, for which Hancock paid the bill. Hancock, in turn, got 
Adams a reprieve on the old default charge that had hung over 
him since he left the collectorship some 8000 in arrears on his 
accounts, saving him from almost certain imprisonment. During 
the long struggles over all the issues., from the oppressive taxes to 
the quartering d troops, Hancock and Adams supplemented one 
another admirably. The outward and visible implications of Han- 
cock's association with the revolutionary faction were of inestima- 
ble importance merely on the surface; for while Samuel Adams 
and his old associates had nothing to lose by the revolutionary 
path on which they were set, John Hancock had tremendous 
assets and interests to lose and nothing predictable to gain. At 
the same time, the essential differences in character and values 
of the two men repeatedly boiled to an explosive point, and more 
than once Hancock was almost sent flying into the arms of 
the Tories, to whose company he was more attracted socially 
anyhow. Hancock was extremely sensitive about his personal 
status before the public, and Adams did not think that 
anything, including reasonable political behavior, let alone per- 
sonal position, was as important as the cause. On the whole, there- 
fore, while Adams labored at every conceivable task, some risky, 
some grueling, all demanding of ingenuity and energy, Hancock 
became the well-bred front man. But whenever Adams seemed 
to be going too far, to be bordering on treason, Hancock pulled 
back and even engineered the defeat of some of Adams' projects. 
For long periods, too, Hancock walked a middle path between 
Adams at one extreme and the royal governor at the other. Never- 
theless, whenever a real crisis arose, he was back with Adams again. 
The plans of Adams could easily accommodate the temporary 
deflections of Hancock. In fact, it is probable that if Adams did not 
encourage such occasional deflections, he welcomed them as con- 
veying to the public generally that Hancock was no man's creature. 
His greatest use of Hancock was to present him, at suitable times 
and in suitable posts, as the well-dressed, polished, substantial 


gentleman that stood as a living answer to the charges, not so 
much in England as in the colonies, that the revolutionary move- 
ment was the irresponsible work of mobs. Meanwhile, Adams had 
other work to do. He forged the dissenting clergy, for example, 
into a powerfully influential revolutionary warhead by constantly 
identifying religious rights with political rights and by repeated 
reminders of the continuing threat of an American episcopacy. 
Among less individualistic classes than the clergy, Adams created 
and put into operation the first political machines known in 
America, which became both central agencies of action and in- 
credibly efficient and rapid sources and channels of intelligence. 
He also devised techniques for influencing public opinion that still 
seemed innovations when used nearly two centuries later. Not the 
least effective of these were the communications from the colonial 
assemblies to British officials, drafts of which often appeared in 
American newspapers weeks before they had a chance of reaching 
the designated recipients. James Otis once protested this practice 
to Adams, who snapped, "What signifies that? You know it was 
designed for the people and not the Minister." 5 He thought, too, 
of the need to influence British opinion, long before he ever had 
any hopes of armed revolt, and he made certain that every action 
of the ministry was balanced by an unmistakable exposition of the 
American point of view to Englishmen. In 1768, Adams invented 
the American newspaper syndicate, for he was convinced that the 
best and most effective way of mobilizing the sympathy of other 
colonies for the plight of Boston in being occupied by British troops 
was by reporting to them in detail what it was like for a free town 
to be occupied. Distributed to newspapers all the way to South 
Carolina, the column, "Boston Journal of Occurrences," reported 
in considerably exaggerated news items how the townspeople 
suffered from the troops all to suggest that this could also happen 
to Philadelphia or Baltimore, Richmond or Charleston. 

Yet despite his vast skill and undoubted genius in molding 
public opinion and in mobilizing group action, Adams had much 



too sound a sense of history not to know that the whole revolution- 
ary movement was at the mercy of events. In the past, as in the 
case of the Boston Massacre, he had occasionally inspired the 
event. In his almost religious fervor for the cause, he saw this 
as nothing more than the acceleration of historic trends that were 
inevitable. He had also seen fit, from time to time, to meet events 
halfway, as he did in the case of the Boston Tea Party, when he 
abruptly terminated a public meeting to deal with the tea issue 
by stating flatly that "this meeting can do nothing further to save 
the country" upon which his mob of Mohawks took off to throw 
the disputed tea into the harbor. In the shrewd judgment of 
Samuel Adams such stimulation of events was, from time to 
time, a necessary element in the strategy of revolution. Another 
such time was approaching when he came with Hancock to Jonas 
Clarke's house. 

The long dispute with Great Britain had brought the situation, 
by the spring of 1775, to a tense stalemate. Everyone knew that 
it could not continue indefinitely, but it was by no means assumed 
that it would inevitably culminate in armed revolt. As punishment 
for the destruction of the tea shipments the Boston Port Bill had 
closed the port of Boston tight. Parliament had sought to make 
violation of its laws unpopular in the colonies by making an ex- 
ample of Massachusetts. It rushed through a petulant and highly 
impolitic assortment of acts to put teeth in its tax measures. Among 
these were acts prohibiting the calling of any town meetings except 
to elect officers and transferring to the Crown the appointment 
of all local law-enforcement officials. Since May 1774, General 
Gage, with his five thousand bored troops, had occupied Boston 
to enforce the acts; and all commerce in the town was suspended. 
Samuel Adams spent the year trying to keep the spirit of revolution 
alive, to unite the colonies, and to create an American army that 
would absorb the various militia. Despite his distrust of the slow 
legislative process, the Provincial Congress was the agency that 
he expected to accomplish these things within Massachusetts, and 



the Continental Congress within the colonies as a whole. But he 
was well aware that these bodies, with their constant need for 
compromise, might require an occasional goading. Adams had had 
enough experience with them to know that they were less apt 
to rise to greatness than to have greatness thrust upon them. After 
the lukewarm session of the First Continental Congress he used 
every means, fair or foul, to broaden and intensify a sense of 

Adams had got Hancock installed as President of the Provincial 
Congress and as chairman of the Committee of Safety, but he 
seemed unwilling to let him out of his sight. With Adams firmly 
in charge Hancock was enjoying hugely the sensation of a leader- 
ship that he did not have. Both men were, of course, the sole 
exemptions in a general offer of pardon that was made by the 
British in an effort to break the Boston stalemate. Hancock wore 
the honor in his usual theatrical way, strapping on his colonel's 
sword as though ready to duel with any soldier who came to get 
him. But Adams had no dramatic illusions about it; he knew very 
well that a country parsonage would be an unseemly and a very 
unpopular object of a military raid and that Gage was not likely 
to try it. 

For his part, Adams could see the stalemate's breaking in either 
of two ways: reconciliation with Britain, with the colonies, chas- 
tened but given relief, remaining in the empire; or outright and 
complete separation, won by forcibly throwing the British out. He 
could see the former as nothing but total defeat and the moral 
collapse of the colonies. The latter he saw as possible only if all 
the colonies were united in such furious indignation by a dramatic 
event that they would never be reconciled. Unprepared and almost 
barren of ammunition as the colonies were, Adams nevertheless 
feared the war far less than a drift toward reconciliation. The 
North ministry, despite the warlike aspect of Gage's Boston army, 
had spent the winter of 1774-75 holding out olive branches to the 
other colonies. Adams knew that there were economic, social, and 



political pressures within the colonies that made it not at all unlikely 
that in due time they might be seized by eager colonial hands. 
Moreover, he was fully aware that many of the influential colonies 
outside New England, and some factions within, found the pros- 
pect of government by Sam Adams no more palatable than gov- 
ernment by British Tories. 

Adams unquestionably found Jonas Clarke a sympathetic and 
wise counselor on these matters. During his prolonged stay at 
Clarke's house, conversations far into the night could enlighten 
Adams on the attitudes of the Lexington farmers. Expert as he 
was in town mobs and their behavior, Adams, who had lived all 
his life in the heart of Boston, was weak in his knowledge of 
country people. Hancock knew nothing of them. On the other 
hand, Clarke knew them intimately, had taught them all the 
politics that they knew, and had written their official town cor- 
respondence and resolutions for them all through the dispute with 
Britain. Nobody could give Adams a more reliable appraisal of 
the capacity and willingness of the country people to resist any 
coercion from Gage. Moreover, Samuel Adams was a dourly 
religious man, a profound believer in the force and sanctity of 
the covenant, and it would be only from such a man as Jonas 
Clarke that he would willingly seek guidance. 

From March twenty-second to the end of the month, the Pro- 
vincial Congress in the Concord meetinghouse held rather pointless 
and long-winded discussions on "the rules and regulations for a 
constitutional army." But there was no "constitutional army/' 
This fondest dream of Samuel Adams had got nowhere at the 
Continental Congress five months earlier, and the Congress had 
also made it perfectly clear that the majority of the delegates 
wanted no war of aggression against the British troops in Boston. 
So there was no army and little broad sentiment in favor of one. 
Even the little town militia surrounding Boston a quarter of 
whose number were enrolled as minutemen were inadequately 
supplied, uncertain of what they were supposed to do, and not very 


well drilled. And the session of the Provincial Congress at Concord 
was sagging badly, with several members not even bothering to 
attend and others going home before the session was over. There 
was also bad news from other towns. The Tories of Marblehead, 
north of Boston, and of Marshfield, south, had applied to General 
Gage for British troops to come to their towns to ensure order. 
The troops had gone and stayed there, and nothing happened no 
brush with the townspeople, no clash with the local militia, not 
even bitter resolutions. To Samuel Adams, such serenity meant 
trouble to the cause. 

Adams tried at the Concord sessions to rouse the delegates to 
the establishment of a provincial army of eighteen thousand men, 
outnumbering Gage's troops over four to one, but the cautious 
country delegates were not swarming to the support of the notion. 
They gave reasons that Adams considered inadequate, such as 
the exorbitant costs involved or the danger of British reprisals; 
or else, as Adams pressed the matter, they simply suffered sudden 
diplomatic illnesses and went home. As the sessions droned on, 
the number of delegates attending had so dwindled that Adams 
made a motion that all sick delegates resign and more vigorous 
substitutes be sent in their places. This made any further sick 
reports too brazen to be tried, but the session had accomplished 
nothing concrete and was shrinking to a halfhearted end. 

In a desperate, and characteristic, effort to redeem it, Adams 
seized upon some intelligence received from Dr. Joseph Warren, 
a member of the Congress and also of the Committee of Safety, 
who had been left in Boston to take charge of affairs during 
Adams' absence. Dr. Warren had news to report from Arthur 
Lee, the colony's agent in London. Lee's letter was over three 
months old when it got to Boston, having come on a slow winter 
passage, and it did not have much of importance to communicate 
anyhow. But it was enough, under Adams' skillful use, to stir up 
the delegates and shake them from their deadly apathy. It reported 
that Parliament had resolved to support the Crown fully in the 


effort to maintain authority over the American colonies (which 
was hardly exceptionally grave news, since the Parliament had 
been rather more fretful in determining a policy for America than 
the King had) ; that henceforth rebellious Massachusetts was 
prohibited equal access with His Majesty's loyal subjects in Can- 
ada to the great fisheries; and finally that General Gage, who had 
been asking for reinforcements for months, would at last get them. 
Adams leaped eagerly upon all this intelligence as the salvation 
of the tepid session. A proclamation, full of mystery, immediately 
went out from Hancock, as President, to the recalcitrant delegates : 

In Provincial Congress, April $ y 1775 

Whereas several members of this congress are now absent by leave 
of the congress, and as the important intelligence received by the 
last vessels from Great Britain renders it necessary that every 
member attend his duty, 

RESOLVED, that the absent members be directed forthwith to attend 
in this place, that so the wisdom of the province may be collected^ 

The strategem worked, and the absent delegates came rushing 
back to Concord, their illnesses all providentially cured. But 
the only business that they transacted was an attempt to strengthen 
steps already taken but never wholeheartedly carried out through- 
out the province. On April seventh the Congress prepared a cir- 
cular urging that the towns of eastern Massachusetts make certain 
that their militia were ready in case of need for emergency action. 
It also enjoined them from taking any action except defensively 
which hardly seems to have been necessary except for the delegates' 
hearty respect for Samuel Adams' ability to create crises. On 
April eighth a resolution was passed to send delegates to Connecti- 
cut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire to solicit participation in 
raising a provincial army. On April thirteenth it was resolved to 
create six companies of artillery, though there were neither field 
pieces to arm them nor money to pay them. On Saturday, April 



fifteenth, having exhausted the list of actions even remotely pos- 
sible to achieve, the Provincial Congress proclaimed a date for 
fasting and prayer and then adjourned. 

All this flurry of activity with which Adams sought to rescue the 
session from characterization as a failure did not erase from his own 
mind the fact that the people of the colonies were generally far 
from being in a hostile mood. They were not even convinced that it 
was necessary to be watchful or prepared. Of the 21,000 the 
Provincial Congress had requested for munitions six months 
earlier, less than a quarter had been received. The militia were 
still without bayonets and armed for the most part only with 
their own hunting muskets. They did not have enough field pieces 
even to train the militia in their use, and they also lacked such 
ordinary equipment as spades, pick axes, wheelbarrows, and mess 
gear. The Committee of Supplies was instructed to correct the 
situation but given no suggestions on how to do it. Finally, even 
after Adams 3 effort to scare the Provincial Congress into venture- 
some action with the news from London, there was still in- 
difference and a lack of concern among the delegates. When Dr. 
Church, attending the Congress, sent his espionage report to Gage 
on the last day of the session, he reported, "There was great divi- 
sion among the members of the Congress and great irresolution 
shown in the course of their debates this week. Many of them 
opposed raising an army and though it was motioned to take under 
consideration the appointment of officers for said army they would 
not enter upon it at all. The Committee on the State of the Prov- 
ince have now under consideration the means of procuring a fund 
for the subsistence of the army but find so many insurmountable 
difficulties that they can come to no determination." 7 

There was no doubt that the third week of April 1775 saw the 
revolutionary movement at a very low ebb, Adams, who had 
been through thick times and through thin in his crusade, saw no 
chance of any considerable improvement until the people's mood 



was changed from apathy to mlHtance. No resolution, no speeches, 
could accomplish this. It would have to depend upon events. 

The Concord session over, Adams and Hancock concluded that, 
in view of the repeated assurances from London that Gage was 
now under orders to arrest them as ringleaders and send them to 
England for trial, they had better stay in the sanctuary of Clarke's 
house until they set out for the meetings of the Second Continental 
Congress in Philadelphia a week later. The major thing on Adams' 
mind was how to inspire action in that fledging quasi-national 
body when the Provincial Congress had just fallen so flat. By any 
means, the impotent and irresolute wranglings of the First Con- 
tinental Congress, the memory of which after six months still 
gnawed at his own crusading spirit, must be avoided. Meanwhile, 
in the Reverend Jonas Clarke he found congenial, informed, and 
sympathetic company. Hancock had other matters to occupy him. 


On April seventh, a week before the Provincial Congress ad- 
journed. Dr. Joseph Warren's brother James reported on affairs 
in Boston to his wife Mercy : "The inhabitants of Boston are on the 
move. H. and A. [Hancock and Adams] go no more into that 
garrison. The female connections of the first come out early this 
morning. . . ." 8 

The females connected with Hancock were his Aunt Lydia and 
her protegee, his fiancee, Dorothy Quincy. They headed, fully 
equipped for an indefinite stay, for the house of Jonas Clarke in 
Lexington, and there they had been installed comfortably, if not 
with the luxury they were accustomed to, while Hancock and 
Adams were winding up the business of the Congress and waiting 
to go on to Philadelphia. It was probably Aunt Lydia who decided 
on the Lexington retreat with a fine indifference to what must 
have begun to be an acute space problem in the little house. She 
was determined that her late husband's nephew and heir was to 
marry her own favorite niece. But Dorothy Quincy, whose family 



connections were more distinguished than the Hancocks' and who 
was popular, self-confident, and somewhat spiritedly independent, 
enjoyed giving Hancock, ten years her senior, an uneven time of 
it. Aunt Lydia thought that the more the two were together the 
sooner their marriage could come about, and the last major busi- 
ness of her life would be done. She had no intention of letting 
wars or rumors of wars interfere with this serious matter. She 
and Dorothy were given the big upstairs bedroom in the Clarke 
house, close to the big bedroom occupied by Hancock and Adams. 
Aunt Lydia probably took over as much of the management of 
the house as she could, for distinguished patriots from out of town 
kept coming to the house for dinner. 

Among these was one of Hancock's ghost writers (Samuel 
Adams was the other) , Dr. Samuel Cooper, militant and politically 
minded pastor of the Brattle Street Church, who had written 
Hancock's most famous oration, the 1774 anniversary speech on 
the Boston Massacre. Cooper, whose church in Boston was at- 
tended regularly by Adams, was the clerical firebrand of the 
revolution and a kind of chaplain at many of Adams' meetings 
with the mob leaders during the early days. It is written 9 that the 
Sunday before his visit to Lexington "Dr. Cooper, a notorious 
rebel, was officiating at his meetinghouse, and, on notice given 
him, protested sudden sickness, went home, and sent to another 
clergyman to do his duty in the evening. He, with every other chief 
of the [revolutionary] faction, left Boston before night and never 
returned to it. The cause, at the time unknown, was discovered on 
the fourteenth of said month [April], when a vessel arrived with 
Government dispatches, which contained direction to seize the 
persons of certain notorious rebels. It was too late. They had re- 
ceived timely notice of their danger, and were fled." 

Cooper, Clarke, and Adams, drawing Hancock into the dis- 
cussions so much as the attention required by Dorothy Quincy's 
presence allowed, had ample opportunity to discuss possible 
courses of action. It was still certain that public opinion would not 


tolerate any aggressive attack on the troops in Boston, even if an 
army could be improvised for the purpose. And Adams had all 
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday the sixteenth, seventeenth, and 
eighteenth to consult with Clarke. 

In addition to paying some attention to his fiancee and his aunt, 
Hancock had other matters on his mind as well. He had brought 
his secretary, John Lowell, to Lexington with him, and lodged 
him with a trunkful of papers to be attended to in Buckman's 
Tavern, a few minutes 5 walk from the Clarke house. Among the 
papers was a disturbing letter from President Langdon of Harvard. 
It reminded Hancock that the Corporation had written him four 
times since November 1774 for a statement of his accounts as 
treasurer of the College, that he had twice made appointments for 
meetings to present them and had failed to appear on both oc- 
casions, that the College couldn't very well function without its 
funds, and, finally, that the Corporation would now like him to 
turn over the money, bonds, and papers that he held for the 
College since he was obviously too busy with more pressing 
matters to handle them. Hancock wrote a steaming letter back, 
saying that he resented the Corporation's action and that he would 
do something about the College's funds that he was holding when 
he got back from Philadelphia. But he was so furious with Harvard 
that he never did give the College its funds (his estate did after 
his death), and he waited eleven years before he gave it even an 
accounting. Although his business affairs were muddled that 
April and the Boston port closing had left him somewhat short of 
cash, if Hancock had used Harvard's funds, he had probably done 
so mistakenly. Embezzlement is much less likely to be the explana- 
tion of his behavior than wounded feelings at the Corporation's 
request for its own moneys, for there was never a day hi John 
Hancock's life when his assets were as low as his pride was 

On Sunday the sixteenth there was further excitement at the 
Clarke house, which by now was the busiest place in Massa- 



chusetts. Paul Revere, a Boston craftsman who had long been the 
most trusted messenger of the Boston Committee of Correspond- 
ence, rode the sixteen miles from Boston with urgent news: there 
were unusual and highly suspicious movements of the British 
troops within the Boston garrison. Revere had joined with some 
thirty other Boston mechanics in setting up a voluntary, self- 
appointed patrol to watch the troops around the clock. "In the 
winter, towards the spring," he later wrote, "we frequently took 
turns, two and two, to watch the soldiers, by patrolling the streets 
all night. The Saturday night preceding the nineteenth of April, 
about twelve o'clock at night, the boats belonging to the transports 
were all launched and carried under the stems of the men-of-war. 
(They had previously been hauled up and repaired.) We likewise 
found that the grenadiers and light infantry had all been taken off 
duty. From these movements, we suspected something serious was 
to be transacted. 5510 

Revere first took this intelligence to Dr. Warren, who seems to 
have adopted Revere as a chief aide. They decided that the intent 
of Gage was probably to use the transports 5 boats to ferry the 
grenadiers and light infantry across the Charles and out to the 
countryside on a raid of the colony's military stores, or to seize 
Adams and Hancock (for which the number of troops would 
appear excessive), or to do both. They then agreed that on the 
next day, Sunday, Revere had better ride out to Lexington and 
take his report directly to the Clarke house. 

For Revere, who had been employed by the Boston selectmen 
to ride all the way to New York with news of the Boston Tea 
Party, the chore was a routine one. The ride was so uneventful 
that he recalled nothing of it in later years. But to Adams the 
news that he brought was far from routine. The month of April 
that had opened so dull showed promise of delivering the kind of 
events that Adams and the cause so badly needed. 

The obvious decision of Gage to make some sort, any sort, of a 
move was to Adams the beginning of the real dawn of a new era. 



Repeatedly he had been held back, the whole revolutionary move- 
ment stranded, by the faint of heart who were always qualifying 
and undermining plans for action with such phrases as "defensive 
moves only" and "in the event that Gage's troops with artillery 
and baggage move out of Boston. 3 ' Now let them move. Samuel 
Adams had sublime confidence, amply justified, in his ability to 
make events work for him and to manage the effect that they had 
on men's minds. Here, with the news that Revere brought, then, 
was nothing but opportunity. 

Consulting with Hancock, he first got out of the way the details 
that had to be handled before he could contemplate further the 
grander implications of the intelligence from Revere. As chairman 
of the Provincial Committee of Safety, Hancock sent orders by 
messenger to Concord, five miles away, to direct the local com- 
mittee to hide the arms, munitions and supplies in widely scattered 
places throughout the town and to move what they could to other 
towns in the area. Additional messengers were dispatched to other 
communities to give advance warning to the minutemen that they 
might soon be called upon to live up to their names. A special 
meeting of the Committee of Safety was also called for the next 
day, Monday. 

And now Samuel Adams could ponder the suddenly bright 
turn in the prospects of the revolutionary movement, so lately 
almost dead of inertia. There could be no doubt that the British 
were about to make an excursion in force out into the countryside. 
As a result, anything could happen. Adams saw all history, all 
wars, all politics as simply action and reaction. He was reasonably 
certain now of getting from the British the kind of action needed 
by the cause. His only remaining concern was to get the right kind 
of reaction from the colonists. He had two days to think about this, 
in the company of the most influential man in Lexington, the 
Reverend Jonas Clarke, and at a place not more than a few rods 
from the parade ground of the Lexington militia. 




'We rid down towards Lexington^ a pretty 
smart pace. . . ." 


If Samuel Adams had problems in the spring of 1775, his arch- 
foe. General Thomas Gage, "Captain-General and Governor-in- 
Chief 3 of Massachusetts, had even more. Adams' illegal govern- 
ment, the Provincial Congress, was ineffective enough, but Gage's 
legal government in Boston was merely a ghost, governing no one 
but the occupation troops. His effective command also extended 
to the loyalists who had moved into Boston, but the towns outside 
paid no attention whatsoever to his government. He had no 
legislature, the General Court having changed itself into the 
Provincial Congress, and no courts, for the royally appointed 
judges were afraid to hold sessions. Most of the clergy refused 
to read his proclamations, and most of the inhabitants ignored 

During the winter of 1774-75, Gage could please no one. The 
Tories and his own troops thought him so mild in his government 
that they openly ridiculed him. The patriots thought him a mon- 



ster, up to the work of the devil, and beneath contempt. Actually, 
Gage was a man of exceptional patience and strong democratic 
instincts, of noble lineage, married to an American wife, and of 
far less rigidity than the average military man. Altogether, in the 
Boston of 1 775 he was, in an impossible and, in some respects, a silly 
situation. He was not ruling Boston with an iron hand, although 
with over four thousand well-armed troops in the little peninsular 
town of seventeen thousand and with men-of-war in the harbor 
capable of blasting it from three sides, he could easily have imposed 
martial law. Instead, he permitted perfect freedom. He let the 
radical press insult him unmercifully, permitted public meetings to 
be held for the sole purpose of inspiring opposition to his govern- 
ment, and so often took the side of the townspeople in their run-ins 
with the soldiers that one of his officers complained that, while 
the townspeople were never blamed for offenses against the troops, 
"if a soldier errs in the least, who is more ready to complain than 
Tommy?" 2 He imposed no censorship, no curfews, no regulations 
impeding the personal liberties of the inhabitants. 

His reasons for the restraint he showed were sensible: "I have 
been at pains to prevent anything of consequence taking its rise 
from trifles and idle quarrels, and when the cause of Boston became 
the general concern of America, endeavoured so to manage that 
Administration might have an opening to negotiate if anything 
conciliatory should present itself or be in a condition to prosecute 
their plans with greater advantage. 3 ' 3 Moreover, he put little faith 
in the ability of four thousand troops to put down any determined 
rebellion in any case: "If force is to be used at length, it must be 
a considerable one, and foreign troops must be hired, for to begin 
with small numbers will encourage resistance, and not terrify; and 
will in the end cost more blood and treasure. An army on such a 
service should be large enough to make considerable detachments 
to disarm and take in the counties, procure forage carriages, etc., 
and keep up communications, without which little progress could 
be made in a country where all are enemies." 4 



Throughout the winter of 1774-75, Gage presided with flexibil- 
ity and prudence over a highly incendiary set of circumstances. 
The Port Bill had thrown almost all the laborers in what was 
entirely a shipping town out of their jobs, on the one side. On the 
other, there were four thousand soldiers with virtually nothing 
to do. That the idlers and the soldiers did not have a major 
conflict was as much tribute to Gage as an administrator as 
some of Ms later military ventures were a rebuke to him as a gen- 
eral. In the spring, however. Gage, who was far less militant than 
the Boston Tories would have liked, began to receive rumbles of 
dissatisfaction with his command in London. On April sixteenth he 
received a letter from Dartmouth, the Secretary of State, in which 
the earl cast doubt, in no very uncertain terms, on the wisdom of 
Gage's general course. He told Gage that the King and his 
ministers wanted action, particularly in the form of the arrest of 
the leaders of the Provincial Congress who, at the time of Gage's 
receipt of Dartmouth's letter, were sitting in Jonas Clarke's study 
in Lexington. The earl rejected Gage's sound judgment that four 
thousand troops could never subdue the colonies and added that 
the prospects of Gage's getting an army that he considered 
adequate for such a job were so dim as to be out of the question. 
Dartmouth went on, comfortable in the certainty of his knowledge 
of affairs three thousand miles away, that Gage had been alto- 
gether too lenient anyhow and concluded with ministerial sarcasm, 
"In reviewing the charter for the government of the province of 
Massachusetts Bay, I observe that there is a clause that empowers 
the governor to use and exercise the law-martial in times of actual 
war, invasion or rebellion." 5 

Gage got this long and reproachful letter from the Secretary of 
State on April sixteenth, four months after it was dispatched on 
a sloop of war. This was the day after he had Dr. Church's final 
summary of the session of the Provincial Congress and a detailed 
report of the distribution of the military stores at Concord. Despite 
Dartmouth's order to put top priority on the seizure of the leaders 



of the Congress an idea that Gage apparently recognized as 
outrageous, and that would furnish the one certain incentive for a 
provincial attack on the troops in Boston Gage determined that 
the one thing that his troops could accomplish was the destruction 
of the few central depots of colonial military supplies. He had 
exact intelligence on the volume and location of these supplies 
from Dr. Church, and he had further intelligence that specified 
what stores were in what places. He also had Church's reports 
on the difficulty the Congress had encountered in trying to raise a 
provincial army. Nothing that Dartmouth said in his scolding 
letter to Gage struck the latter as sufficient grounds for changing his 
plans to seize the Concord stores in favor of seizing Hancock and 
Adams. He knew where the stores were. He knew the provincial 
militia were weakly organized. And he probably had the usual field 
general's contempt for the omniscience and bland assumptions of 
government ministers who sat thousands of miles away. 

It was a sound enough decision for Gage to make: armies 
without ammunition were powerless; political leaders always had 
successors lurking in the background ready to make capital of 
their martyrdom. That Gage seriously considered seizing the stores 
at Concord long before he received Dartmouth's letter on April 
sixteenth is clear not only from his ordering the boats out the 
night before but also from his instructions almost a month earlier 
to Ensign Henry de Berniere of the Tenth Infantry: "The 
twentieth of March Captain Brown and myself received orders to 
set out for Concord, and examine the road and situation of the 
town; and also to get what information we could relative to what 
quantity of artillery and provisions . . . The town of Concord lies 
between hills that command it entirely; there is a river runs through 
it, with two bridges over it; in summer it runs pretty dry; the 
town is large and covers a great tract of ground, but the houses are 
not close together but generally in little groups. We were informed 
they had fourteen pieces of cannon (ten iron and four brass) and 
two cohorns; they were mounted, but in so bad a manner that 



they could not elevate them more than they were, that Is, 
they were fixed to one elevation; their iron cannon they kept in a 
house in town, their brass they had concealed in some place behind 
the town in a wood. They had also a store of flour, fish, salt and 
rice; and a magazine of powder and cartridges. . . ," 6 

Although Gage had already received the information on the 
military stores, he obviously sent Brown and de Bemiere to get the 
report of infantry officers on the conditions of the roads. Gage 
also knew, from another letter from his informer, dated April 
eighteenth, that many of the munitions stores had been moved 
following Revere's Sunday trip to Lexington, some of them out 
of Concord altogether but most of them to new places in the town, 
and that the provisions for the projected provincial army were still 
in their original places. 

The first overt action of Gage the launching of the boats from 
the transports came on the night of Saturday, April fifteenth, 
the same day that he issued the general orders relieving the light 
infantry and grenadiers from their regular duties. He told no one 
his purpose in issuing the orders not even the man he had chosen 
to command the force. But just as Revere and Warren had 
guessed what he had in mind and brought about the hurried 
shuffling of the stores in Concord, so did Gage's own officers. In 
his journal for the fifteenth, Lieutenant Barker, who never ap- 
proved of anything that General Gage, or for that matter any of 
his senior officers, did, wrote: "General orders. 'The grenadiers 
and light infantry in order to learn grenadiers' exercise and new 
evolutions are to be off all duties until further notice. 9 This, I 
suppose, is by way of a blind. I dare say they have something for 
them to do." 7 How a man of Gage's military experience could 
assume that there would be nothing transparent in the orders, 
particularly when issued the same day that the boats were being 
readied on the Charles, is baffling. But it was characteristic of a 
kind of operational impracticality from which Gage suffered 
grievously as a field officer. Over and over again his military 



actions fell far short of his perception and judgment. On March 
fifth he had written to Dartmouth that much was to be feared 
from the provincial militia's "forming ambushments, whereby 
the light infantry must suffer extremely in penetrating the 
countryside/' 8 Yet on April eighteenth he was preparing to send 
the best units in his army, amounting to perhaps a sixth of its total 
strength, to run just such a gantlet. 

Still confident that his intentions were a total secret. Gage stuck 
resolutely to his policy of secrecy even throughout the day of April 
eighteenth, the day the expedition was to leave. Lieutenant 
Colonel Francis Smith of the Tenth Infantry was summoned by 
Gage, told that he was to command the expedition but not where 
it was going, and then given sealed orders to be opened only when 
he was on the way that night. At eight o'clock in the evening the 
regimental officers were called to Gage's headquarters and told 
to have their companies of grenadiers and light infantry "on the 
beach near the magazine guard exactly at 10 o'clock this night," 9 
according to Lieutenant Frederick Mackenzie of the Royal Welch 
Fusiliers. Mackenzie added that quiet was emphasized and the 
men were to be marched in small groups to the rendezvous, which 
was at the foot of Boston Common on the Back Bay. The regi- 
mental officers were told nothing of the purpose or the ultimate 
destination of the troops. Shortly before ten o'clock the men were 
awakened by their sergeants' shaking them, stole silently out of 
their barracks by back doors, and inarched in total silence in little 
groups to the obscure beach on the Back Bay a tidal flood com- 
pletely barren of any buildings or people. "A dog, happening to 
bark, was run through by a bayonet." 10 

By nine o'clock on the evening of April eighteenth, then. 
Lieutenant Colonel Smith knew that he was going to lead an ex- 
pedition but did not know where. The regimental officers knew 
that they were supposed to have their grenadiers and light infantry 
companies on the beach by ten o'clock. But the soldiers them- 
selves had not yet been wakened. At nine o'clock Gage sent for his 


brigadier, Hugh, Earl Percy, and told him that he was sending an 
expedition to Concord to seize the stores. He said, further, that it 
was still a secret, even to Lieutenant Colonel Smith, who was to 
command. Lord Percy left in a little while and walked across 
Boston Common back to his own quarters. He noticed a group of 
townspeople talking in a huddle and, concealing his identity by 
his cloak in the total darkness, overheard them discussing a British 
march that night. They mentioned the arms stored at Concord as 
the specific objective, and Percy turned around and went back to 
report the incident to Gage. By then the troops were presumably 
embarked across the river, and all Gage could do was to issue 
orders that no townspeople were to leave Boston that night. 


The only patriot leader left in Boston on the night of April eight- 
eenth, Dr. Joseph Warren had a busy time while all this stealthy 
mobilization of the British was going on, In the afternoon in- 
formation started to flow into his surgery: the British were to 
march that night. Virtually all the information originated with 
British officers, for, careful as Gage was to conceal the destination 
and objective of the march, he all but published the fact that 
some march was intended. So all during the afternoon the gossipy 
little town, where all normal business had ceased, fairly bristled 
with rumors not just a grapevine but a jungle web of information 
that kept meeting itself. A British officer told a gunsmith; the 
gunsmith told Colonel Josiah Waters, a member of the local 
Committee of Safety; Waters, of course, told Dr. Warren. At the 
same time, one John Ballard heard a Province House groom dis- 
cussing the news in a stable; Ballard told William Dawes, an 
energetic cordwainer, who had recently endeared himself to Dr. 
Warren by smuggling two cannon out of Boston; Dawes told 
Paul Revere, "who told him he had already heard it from two 
other persons." 11 

9 1 


As the afternoon wore on and long before Gage told even Lord 
Percy, Ms brigadier, the plan of the night. Revere and Dawes had 
all their own plans made for getting the word to Lexington and 
Concord they were certain that Adams and Hancock at Lexing- 
ton or the stores at Concord must be the objectives of any major 
British move. The only thing that they were unsure of was the line 
of the march the troops would take (the boats in the Charles could 
have been a feint) and the time of their departure. In those days 
Boston was connected to the mainland only by a thin isthmus 
called Boston Neck. The troops could march out across the Neck, 
although somewhat conspicuously, and thence in a great arc all 
around the Back Bay or else westward through Watertown to 
Waltham and then north to Lexington and Concord. Or else they 
could be ferried across the Charles in boats, landed in East Cam- 
bridge and then march in almost a straight line -through Cam- 
bridge to Menotomy (now Arlington) to Lexington. The "sea" 
route was about sixteen miles to Concord and the land route was 
over twenty-one miles. All the evidence thus far known to Warren 
suggested that Gage planned to ferry the troops across the river. 
But Warren had also had information about Gage's scouting party 
of Captain Brown and Ensign de Bemiere and their visit to Con- 
cord of a few weeks earlier. He knew that they had gone out the 
longer "land" route and come home the shorter "sea" route, 
obviously to give Gage road reports on both routes. Revere had 
also anticipated that the actual route taken by the British would not 
be known until the last minute. Accordingly, on his way back 
from his intelligence ride to Lexington the previous Sunday, he 
had stopped at Charlestown, across the Charles from Boston, 
and arranged a signal code with Colonel Conant of the Charles- 
town Committee of Safety that "if the British went out by water, 
to show two lanterns in the North Church steeple; and if by land, 
one as a signal, for we were apprehensive it would be difficult to 
cross the Charles River or get over Boston Neck." 12 Between them, 
however, Revere and Dawes managed to do both. 


Dawes left by land as soon as Dr. Warren got word, in the early 
night, that the troops were being marched in small groups down to 
the shore on the Back Bay. His instructions were to go to Clarke's 
house in Lexington and tell Adams and Hancock that the British 
were on the way. Although Gage always had a guard at the only 
entrance and exit to the town on the narrow Neck, it was not 
particularly efficient. Dawes, who was of a humorous and genial 
temperament, had often delighted in seeing how often he could 
pass in and out of the town without being stopped. He sometimes 
disguised himself as a country produce peddler and once spent all 
day posing as a drunk following British officers around and con- 
tinuing to follow them as they marched past the guard on the Neck. 
Dawes had also invented a smuggling strategem, a buttons game, 
for getting contraband gold coins out of the town to his family in 
Worcester. In an age when everyone wore brass or gilt buttons he 
made himself conspicuous by wearing cloth-covered buttons on 
both his coat and waistcoat. When he was accepted for this pecu- 
liarity, he put gold coins inside the cloth buttons and wore the 
contraband out of Boston to Worcester, where his wife removed 
the gold coins and replaced them with ordinary button molds. 
Dawes had also, from the beginning, taken the precaution of 
befriending any of the guards at the Neck who looked approach- 
able. On the night of the eighteenth he had the good fortune to find 
one of his friends on duty. He was too discreet and too disinclined 
to presume upon the friendship to ask the guard to open the gate. 
But when the guard had to open it anyhow for a squad of 
soldiers on routine patrol, Dawes had his chance: "attending 
their motions apparently as a spectator, [he] was allowed by the 
connivance of the guard at the gate, who was privately friendly 
to him, to pass out with them." 18 

Paul Revere, meanwhile, had a more complicated exit from the 
town and a less casual one. First of all, he was well known to the 
British as a patriot express rider. Secondly, he had to get across 
the Charles River in the shadow of a British man-of-war just as 



the British troops would be crossing. And finally, unbeknown to 
him. Gage had that afternoon posted mounted officers, with their 
sidearms concealed as though they were on pleasure jaunts, along 
the Cambridge roads, just in case messengers should try to give out 
alarms that night. It was ten o'clock the rendezvous hour of the 
troops on the beach when Dr. Warren sent for Revere. As in the 
case of his instructions to Dawes, Warren's concern was with 
Hancock and Adams at Clarke's house in Lexington and not with 
the supplies at Concord: "I would immediately set off for Lexing- 
ton where Messrs. Hancock and Adams were, and acquaint them 
of the movement and that it was thought they were the objects." 14 
(In his deposition, however, Revere mentioned the stores at Con- 
cord as also a possible objective. ) 

In accordance with- his Sunday agreement with Conant in 
Charlestown, Revere stopped long enough to get the sexton of the 
North Church to go up and display the lanterns for a long enough 
time perhaps a couple of minutes to be seen by Conant across 
the Charles but not long enough to attract British attention to 
them as a signal. Revere then went to get two friends to act 
as oarsmen to row him across the river, on the bank of which he 
had long been accustomed to keeping a boat. They proceeded to 
cross the Charles downstream some distance from the troops' 
rendezvous and separated from them by the Somerset man-of-war. 
They muffled the oars and stayed seaward of the Somerset, well out 
of sight of the British troops and hopefully also beyond sight or 
hearing of the man-of-war. "It was then young flood, the ship 
was winding, and the moon was rising." 15 

Having concluded what should have been the most difficult part 
of his mission, Revere walked from the Charlestown shore into 
town, where he met Colonel Conant, Richard Devens, a member of 
Hancock's Committee of Safety, and a few others. They had seen 
the signal lanterns in the North Church steeple, and Devens had 
already sent an express rider to warn Adams and Hancock. Devens 
told Revere that on his way home from a meeting of the Committee 



of Safety in Menotomy he had met several British officers riding 
out on the Lexington road. Some of them apparently had inter- 
cepted Devens 3 messenger, for he was never heard of again that 
night. Revere borrowed a horse u a very good horse, 3 ' he said 
from Deacon John Larkin, who was never to see it again, and 
started off to Lexington, it now being close to eleven o'clock. By 
the route he was taking, it was about eleven miles to Lexington a 
ride, on a fast horse, of well under an hour. 

At Charlestown, Revere met two British officers on horseback. 
They had been in the shade of a tree, out of the moonlight, and by 
the time Revere saw them he was so close to them that he could see 
their holsters in the soft light. When they saw him, they separated, 
one coming toward him and the other racing up the road to stop 
him there in case he eluded the first. Revere stopped, turned, and 
hurried back to the intersection he had just passed, where the roads 
to Cambridge and Medf ord forked to the west and north. Having 
originally taken the Cambridge road, Revere now turned up the 
Medford road. One of the officers, following him and seeing 
his intention, took his horse across a field to cut Revere off on the 
Medford road. The officer rode right into a clay pond, where his 
horse became mired in the oozy bottom, and Revere got away. The 
other officer followed him about three hundred yards but gave up 
when his horse was evidently being outdistanced by Deacon 
Larkin's fast runner. The incident added some mileage to Revere's 
course, however, because instead of going directly to Lexington 
through Cambridge he now had to take a long swing to the north 
around Cambridge. As long as he was in Medford, he stopped at 
the house of the captain of the Medford miautemen and gave him 
the news. He got back on the main road from Boston to Lexington 
beyond Cambridge. On this road Dawes, having taken the long 
road out over the Neck, would also be riding. Revere, despite the 
detour, got there first, and not long after midnight he was riding 
past Lexington Common to Jonas Clarke's house. 




Besides the dozen or so British officers. Revere, Dawes, such 
other horsemen as Richard Devens 3 messenger from Charlestown, 
and Ebenezer Dorr, who took the news over Boston Neck to 
Roxbury, local town militia and Committees of Safety started to 
send out their scouts. At times it appeared that there were more 
riders abroad than there were soldiers; many of them were meeting 
each other, dodging each other, or capturing each other. The 
general confusion of this whirl of communications and espionage 
was further augmented by the casual attitudes of many of the 
riders. Just as the British officer didn't bother about Revere after 
chasing him three hundred yards, other officers that night caught 
scouts, chatted with them, and let them go. The early spring had 
apparently stimulated a certain amount of nocturnal wanderings 
among many provincials, for the accounts of British advance 
officers were full of amiable conversations with people they met on 
the road. Certainly the officers had been under orders from Gage 
to treat the colonists they encountered with respect, but they 
carried it to such extremes that they nearly defeated the whole 
purpose of their being out at all. 

Richard Devens, of Charlestown, had passed British officers on 
the Lexington-Cambridge road as he rode home in a chaise with 
Abraham Watson. Both men were known members of the Com- 
mittees of Safety and Supplies, which had been meeting that day at 
Menotomy. The British officers did not even bother to stop them. 
Devens and Watson then turned around and "rode through" 10 
the officers in order to go back to Menotomy and warn three other 
committee members, Elbridge Gerry, Charles Lee, and Azor Orne, 
who were lodging in Menotomy overnight, that the British were 
out. Although the British officers must have thought this conduct 
of the men in the chaise unusual, they again did not stop them. As 
a result, when Elbridge Gerry got the news, he sent yet another 



Qzptatii "Parker handfal of mmteww stood 
oulexiwftm Cwimi 
of tke Tfritisfofbms* 


rider out to Jonas Clarke's house in Lexington with the information 
about the officers. This messenger got there in good time,, waited for 
Hancock to write a polite little note of acknowledgment to Gerry, 
and rode back unmolested to Menotomy. 

Meanwhile, some Lexingtomans were also abroad on the high- 
ways. Solomon Brown, the eighteen-year-old son of one of Jonas 
Clarke's deacons and a minuteman, was returning from market 
in Boston in the late afternoon when he passed some of Gage's 
leisurely riding officers on the road to Lexington. Brown noticed 
that although it was one of those clear, warm April days occasion- 
ally visited upon New England, the officers were wearing their 
greatcoats. The reason was apparent to him when, as their coats 
fell back, he saw that they were wearing side arms which was 
strictly forbidden by Gage when the officers rode into the country 
for their own exercise and pleasure. The officers, furthermore, 
looked to the observant young Solomon as if they were killing time 
before taking up their posts on the Lexington-Concord road, and 
"they did not care to reach there until the shades of the evening had 
set in." 17 The officers paid no special attention to Solomon, some- 
times passing him and then lingering while he passed them. Finally, 
Solomon spurred his horse and raced into Lexington, where he 
stopped at Munroe's Tavern 3 some distance south of the Common, 
and told William Munroe, the orderly sergeant of the minutemen, 
about the armed officers. 

Lexington's excitement began with the prompt action that 
Munroe took, apparently on his own initiative but certainly with 
the approval of Clarke, Adams,, and Hancock. Since Solomon 
Brown had told him that there were nine officers, Munroe assumed 
that it was Adams and Hancock whom they were after, nine officers 
being about what Gage might send to take two dignitaries into 
custody. So with a sergeant's precision he posted an armed guard 
of nine men, including himself, around Jonas Clarke's house on 
the Bedford road. Word of this action, of course, spread im- 
mediately all over the town. By nine o'clock about thirty minute- 



men, intending perhaps to relieve the guard in shifts, were gathered 
in Buckman's Tavern. Soon they were joined by others who came 
to the tavern after seeing the officers ride into Lexington. As the 
officers disappeared down the road to Concord on the opposite 
side of the Common from Buckman's, the minutemen decided, in a 
spontaneous conference of war with Jonas Clarke, that the officers 
ought to be followed, lest they double back to Lexington, although 
what the followers were supposed to do about it isn't clear. Three 
minutemen were chosen for this ambiguous assignment: Elijah 
Sanderson, Jonathan Loring, and Solomon Brown, The latter 
was perfectly willing to go himself but flatly refused to take his 
horse, which he had exhausted on the ride home from Boston. 
Jonas Clarke promptly offered his horse, and so three more riders 
dashed off into the night, these in pursuit of Gage's nine riders. 
Around ten o'clock just when Gage's troops were rendezvous- 
ing on the Boston shore of the Back Bay and Paul Revere, stOl 
in Boston, was setting out for Dr. Warren's the three Lexington 
riders, who were totally inexperienced spies, were captured by the 
nine British officers they were following. When they heard the 
approaching horses, the British officers had lined themselves up 
across the road. The officers remained mounted. "One rode up 
and seized my bridle," Elijah Sanderson deposed, "and another 
my arm, and one put his pistol to my breast, and told me, if I 
resisted, I was a dead man. I asked, what he wanted. He replied, 
he wanted to detain me a little while. He ordered me to get off my 
horse. Several of them dismounted and threw down the wall, and 
led us into a field. They examined and questioned us where we 
were going, etc. Two of them stayed in the road, and the other 
seven with us, relieving each other from time to time. They 
detained us in that vicinity till a quarter past two o'clock at night. 
An officer, who took out his watch, informed me what the time was. 
It was a bright moon-light after the rising of the moon, and a 
pleasant evening. During our detention, they put many questions 
to us, which I evaded. They kept us separately, and treated us 



very civilly. They particularly inquired where Hancock and Adams 
were; also about the population. One said, 'You've been number- 
ing the inhabitants, haven't ye? 3 I told him how many it was re- 
ported there were. One of them spoke up and said, 'There were 
not so many men, women and children.' They asked as many 
questions as a yankce could." 18 

While the nine British officers were conducting their somewhat 
aimless interrogation of the three young minutemen, back hi Lex- 
ington the armed guard still surrounded the Clarke house with its 
swollen population of fourteen Clarkes, Adams, Hancock, his Aunt 
Lydia, and Dorothy Quincy. When the three scouts did not return, 
Sergeant Munroe was apparently convinced that they were caught 
as the officers returned toward Lexington to nab Adams and Han- 
cock. Safe behind the guard, the Clarkes and their distinguished 
but now-troublesome guests retired around midnight. 

Shortly after they had all gone to bed, Paul Revere pulled up to 
the Clarke house and was intercepted by Sergeant Munroe, who 
had apparently never heard of him. Revere, not used to dealing 
with underlings, demanded admission to the house. "I told him," 
Munroe said in his deposition,, "the family had just retired and 
had requested that they might not be disturbed by any noise about 
the house." This apparently irritated Revere, who had had a busy 
day and a long and tense ride. " 'Noise/ said he. 'You'll have 
noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out.' " Munroe 
then let him pass, and Revere rapped on the parsonage door. A 
window flew up, and the massive head of the Reverend Jonas 
Clarke emerged to ask who was there. Still irritated, Revere refused 
to answer and demanded to see Hancock, who by this time heard 
the commotion and shouted out merrily, "Come in, Revere; we're 
not afraid of you" 19 Revere gave Hancock a written statement 
from Dr. Warren, in which he estimated that Gage was sending out 
"twelve or fifteen hundred men" 20 about twice the number 
actually sent but otherwise correct in its details. 

Revere refreshed himself and Deacon Larkin's horse at the 



Clarke establishment, which was now thoroughly aroused for the 
rest of the night. Captain John Parker was sent for and came the 
two miles from his farm. A messenger was sent to Buckman's to 
get some of the minutemen there to act as couriers to rouse others 
who lived some distance from the center of Lexington. Parker 
himself went to Buckman's later and made it his headquarters for 
the night. Finally, William Dawes arrived at the Clarke house with 
the duplicate message from Dr. Warren. 

There evidently being a shortage of horses in Lexington by now, 
Revere and Dawes took their briefly rested mounts and set out for 
Concord. Since neither knew the road well and since their horses 
were still tired and there seemed to be plenty of time anyhow, they 
started out at a relaxed pace and were soon overtaken by one of 
the few riders of the night who seemed to be about normal 
activities. It was Dr. Samuel Prescott., youngest of a long line of 
Concord physicians, who was going home after courting his girl, 
Lydia Mulliken, who lived in Lexington near Munroe's Tavern 
on the main road to Cambridge. Lydia's brother, Nathaniel, was a 
minuteman, and Prescott undoubtedly found that the evening was 
destined to other things than courting. He mounted his horse, 
when Nathaniel Mulliken was alerted, and rushed off yet another 
courier to take the news to Concord. When he caught up with 
Revere and Dawes, the two express riders talked to him and 
found him to be "a high son of Liberty." 21 When Dr. Prescott 
pointed out that he knew almost everybody in Concord and 
that they were much more apt to believe him than a couple 
of strangers, Dawes and Revere adopted him as a partner. 

About halfway to Concord, while Dawes and Prescott were 
alarming a household, Revere spotted two British officers on the 
road ahead. He called to Dawes and Prescott that the three of 
them could capture the officers, for although he knew that nine 
officers had gone through Lexington, he was convinced that they 
had broken up into teams. Revere was wrong. Before Dawes and 
Prescott could reach him, lie was surrounded by four officers, and 



as Dawes and Prescott came up they were corralled, too. The trio 
were then forced into a pasture. Dr. Prescott said to Revere, as 
they were being herded through an opening in the stone wall into 
the pasture, that he was going to make a run for it. He jumped his 
horse over another wall on his flank and, knowing the terrain well, 
got away. Revere broke away and made for a woodland, intending 
to dismount from Deacon Larkin's horse, which must have been 
near exhaustion by now, and to run on foot into the woods. But 
Revere guessed wrong again. More officers poured out of the 
woods, capturing both Revere and his weary horse. Dawes mean- 
while galloped his horse to a nearby farmhouse, at which he 
stopped so suddenly his watch flew out of his pocket. Although he 
lost both his horse and his watch, he eluded capture, and a few days 
later he went back and found the watch. Dawes considered that his 
night's work was done, and he went back on foot to Lexington, 
where he kept out of sight. 

Revere was taken in hand by an officer "who had appeared to 
have the command there and [was] much of a gentleman. 5 ' 22 
Although Revere was completely alone now and surrounded by 
British officers, the interrogation session out in the pasture in the 
moonlight was amiable enough, even polite. Revere was asked his 
name ("Sir, may I crave your name?" 23 ), where he came from, 
when he left Boston, and whether he was an express rider. Revere 
"replied that I esteemed myself a man of truth" 24 and answered 
all the questions truthfully. But when it came to the night's oper- 
ations, Revere stretched the truth a little, and so did the officer. The 
officer told Revere that he and the other officers were out to catch 
deserters. "I told him I knew better. I knew what they were after; 
that I had alarmed the country all the way up ; that their boats had 
catched aground, and I should have five hundred men there soon; 
one of them said they had fifteen hundred coming. He seemed 
surprised and rode immediately off up the road to them that 
stopped me ... They came down on a full gallop. One of them 
(whom I since learned was Major Mitchell of the 5th Regiment) 



clapped his pistol to my head and said he was going to ask me some 
questions, and if I did not tell the truth he would blow rny brains 
out." Revere gave the same answers. He was then searched for 
arms (he had none) and told to mount. When he took the reins, 
the major, who knew all about Revere's riding career, grabbed 
them out of his hand. "By God, sir, you are not to ride with reins, 
I assure you." 25 So another officer led Revere's horse. 

When Revere and his captors got into the Lexington-Concord 
road again, they were joined by other officers with four prisoners. 
Three of them were the Lexington minutemen, Solomon Brown, 
Sanderson, and Loring. The fourth was a one-armed peddler, who 
seemed to have wandered into all this activity innocently, when 
he had merely set out to Concord to get an early start in the 
morning. It was now two o'clock in the morning, when the officers 
marched their prisoners, all mounted, back toward Lexington. 
After a while they cut the bridles and saddles loose on the horses 
of the three minutemen and the peddler, drove the horses away, 
and set all the prisoners but Revere free on foot. (Why the British 
officers turned these men loose before their own soldiers were 
near is a mystery, particularly since the officers had taken pains 
to tell them that "four or five regiments of regulars' 526 were on the 
way to Lexington.) A little later, outside Lexington, they took 
Deacon Larkin's horse away from Revere and gave it to a heavy 
sergeant of grenadiers whose own horse was tired, and set Revere 
free. He headed across the burying ground, north of the Common, 
and back to Jonas Clarke's house. 


Matching the comedy of errors that General Gage's advance 
officers were achieving on their mission was the conduct of his 
expedition from its start. From the time that Percy disabused 
Gage of his illusion that it was to be a highly secret expedition that 
would quickly and quietly accomplish its purpose and then get 
back to Boston, everything went wrong. 

1 02 


His orders to Lieutenant Colonel Smith were sound enough: 

Boston, April 18, 1775 
Lieut. CoL Smith, loth Regiment -foot, 

Having received intelligence that a quantity of ammunition, 
provision, artillery, tents and small arms have been collected at 
Concord,, for the avowed purpose of raising and supporting a re- 
bellion against His Majesty, you will march with the corps of 
grenadiers and light infantry , put under your command, with the 
utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord,, where you will seize 
and destroy oil the artillery, ammunition, provisions, tents, small 
arms and all military stores whatever. But you will take care that 
the soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants or hurt private property. 

You have a draught of Concord, on which is marked the houses, 
barns, etc., which contain the above military stores. You will order 
a trunnion to be knocked of each gun, but if it is found impractica- 
ble on any, they must be spiked, and the carriages destroyed. The 
powder and flower must be shook out of the barrels into the river, 
the tents burnt, pork or beef destroyed in the best way you can 
devise. And the men may put balls or lead in their pockets, throw- 
ing them by degrees into ponds, ditches, etc., but no quantity to- 
gether so that they may be recovered afterwards. 

If you meet with any brass artillery, you will order their muzzles 
to beat in, so as to render them useless. 

You will observe by the draught that it mil be necessary to secure 
the two bridges as soon as possible; you will, therefore, order a 
party of the best marchers to go on with expedition for that pur- 

A small party on horseback is ordered out to stop all advice of 
your march getting to Concord before you, and a small number of 
artillery go out in chaises to wait for you on the road with sledge 
hammers, spikes, etc. 

You will open your business and return with the troops as soon 



as possible, which I must leave to your own judgment and dis- 
cretion. I am. 


Your most obedient 
humble servant, 
Thos. Gage 27 

These orders reflected much of Gage's policy from the beginning, 
including absolute abstention from injuring the person or property 
of any of the inhabitants. They were, moreover, extremely 
specific, leaving nothing but the method of destroying some pork 
and beef to Lieutenant Colonel Smith's judgment. But they failed 
in one important particular: they gave the commanding officer, 
who was apparently of a notoriously slow nature, no time table, 
using only such phrases as "the utmost expedition 35 and "as soon 
as possible." However suggestible these might have been to an 
energetic officer, to Lieutenant Colonel Smith they meant only 
"when you get around to it." 

Lieutenant Colonel Smith was a portly professional officer of 
the type, frequently caricatured in British lore, who settle into 
comfortable ruts as soon as they reach regimental command level 
and, having given up any thought of becoming generals, never 
extend themselves. Physically a slow-moving man of conspicuously 
generous bulk, Smith had no concept of time at all. His command 
of the whole expedition when it was in his charge was characterized 
by lateness and delay, as if he regarded Gage's emphasis of speed 
as rhetorical language that always appeared in orders but did not 
really mean anything. 

Smith's command was made up of about seven hundred men, all 
of them light infantry and grenadiers. Altogether there were 
twenty-one companies, eleven of grenadiers and ten of light 
infantry. These troops were not formed into regiments of their 
own. Each infantry regiment had its own company of light infantry 
and its own company of grenadiers. Each of the ten infantry regi- 



ments in Boston and the one marine regiment furnished Its com- 
pany of grenadiers; and all, except the Sixteenth Regiment, whose 
light infantry had not yet arrived in Boston, furnished their com- 
panies of light infantry. Although the British army often formed 
temporary expeditionary forces by using the specialized troops from 
several regiments, they were in a way mongrel forces. They always 
posed a command problem and, to some extent, a morale problem, 
particularly in an army that traditionally put the greatest emphasis 
and distinction on the regiment. The system also required the com- 
manding general to put together a command for the expeditionary- 
force from the officers of the various regiments. 

For the assignment on April eighteenth/ Francis Smith of the 
Tenth Regiment was chosen for the command because he had 
seniority (he applied for retirement the following August ) 3 long 
experience in the American colonies going back at least twelve 
years, and a long association with Gage. Probably, as far as Gage 
was concerned, the choice of Smith avoided problems in the 
garrison; his seniority made reaction of a political nature unlikely 
which would have been of some importance to a man of Gage's 
temperament. For second in command Gage selected Major John 
Pitcaim, of the Second Marines Regiment. An able and enter- 
prising officer, Pitcaim was a man of considerable character, re- 
spected as much by Whigs as by Tories, by the patriots as much as 
the loyalists. The patriot propagandist Ezra Stiles, the minister of 
Newport and later President of Yale, referred to Pitcaim "as a 
good man in a bad cause. 9 * It is probable that Gage thought of 
Pitcaim as a guarantor of the two things that he considered most 
urgent about the night's business, speed and taking care that there 
was no plundering of the inhabitants. By assigning Pitcaim, Gage 
also side-stepped garrison grumbling. There were nine regiments of 
infantry besides Smith's. Eight of them would have been dis- 
gruntled if an infantry major were chosen. There was only one 
regiment of marines. It would, of course, be complimented. 

When the British soldiers rendezvoused at the foot of Boston 



Common on the banks of the old tidal basin of the Charles, at ten 
o'clock, there was time enough for them to be rowed across the 
river, march out to Concord in the night, pass through Lexington 
in the darkness, and arrive in Concord before daylight if Smith 
had conducted the operation with "the utmost expedition." But 
Smith was so slow that he wasted half the time some three hours 
that It took to march to Concord. He was late from the very 
beginning and did not even get to the rendezvous on time. An old 
regimental officer of his limited enthusiasm was probably of the 
opinion that the embarkation should be handled by underlings, 
who would send to notify him when it was accomplished. The 
brisk competent adjutant of the Twenty-third Regiment, Lieuten- 
ant Frederick Mackenzie, was highly critical of the sloppiness of 
the operation's beginnings. Mackenzie was not attached to the 
light infantry or grenadiers, but as adjutant it was his job to see 
that his regiment's companies reported for the rendezvous. Gage 
had told the regimental officers that this was to be "exactly at ten 
o'clock this night." To a soldier of Mackenzie's sober ability this 
meant in no uncertain terms exactly at ten o'clock "The com- 
panies of our regiment marched accordingly," Mackenzie wrote 
in his diary, "and were the first, complete, at the place of parade; 
here we found a number of the men-of-wars 3 and transports' 
boats in waiting. 3 ' 28 After noting that everybody else was late, 
Mackenzie had his professional conscientiousness jolted again by 
the increasingly apparent fact that no one had appointed an 
embarkation officer, and the men just stood around the boats. 
Mackenzie himself, having got the approval of some navy officers 
present, loaded the two companies from his regiment into the near- 
est boats and had them wait offshore for orders to cross the river. 
The companies from the other regiments followed his example and 
boarded the boats until they were all filled. Then all the boats, the 
bayonets of the soldier passengers flashing in the moonlight, floated 
idly around until Lieutenant Colonel Smith got there. 

Not only Smith but the companies of his own Tenth (Lincoln- 



shire) Regiment got off to a bad start. Ensign Jeremy Lister of 
the Tenth, although he was not in the light infantry or grenadier 
companies, went down to the rendezvous anyhow, "being anxious 
to know the reason of this order. 3329 He had his youthful pride in 
his regiment severely shaken by the failure of its light infantry 
company's lieutenant to report at the rendezvous. The lieutenant, 
James Hamilton, was sent for repeatedly but still failed to show up, 
finally pleading illness, which "was supposed by everybody to 
be feigned which 'twas clearly proved to be the case afterwards," 30 
"Thinking it would be rather a disgrace for the company to march 
on an expedition, more especially it being the first, without its com- 
plement of officers," Lister begged to be permitted to go in Hamil- 
ton's place "for the honor of the regiment." His offer was 
accepted, and he went back to his lodgings in the town to get his 
field equipment. 

Finally, Lieutenant Colonel Smith arrived and ordered the 
boats to cross the river. But since the boats required two trips to 
take all the men across, it was between midnight and one o'clock in 
the morning before they were ferried across the few hundred yards 
of the Charles' tidal backwash, the soldiers having been ready at 
ten o'clock. Lieutenant Barker, the cantankerous officer of the 
King's Own who disapproved of General Gage, Lieutenant 
Colonel Smith, and all his superiors so heartily, found nothing right 
in the operation, even after the long delay in getting the troops 
over the river. "After getting over the marsh," he complained in 
his diary, "where we were wet up to the knees, we were halted in a 
dirty road and stood there until two o'clock in the morning, waiting 
for provisions to be brought from the boats and to be divided, and 
which most of the men threw away, having carried some with 
'em." 31 In his eager disapproval of things Barker probably made 
everything a little worse than it was, in order to prove his superiors 
a little less competent than they were; but his chronology of all the 
wasted time is accurate. Lieutenant William Sutherland, of the 
Thirty-eighth Regiment, an altogether different type of young 



officer, who had no complaints about anybody and who was on 
the expedition as a volunteer to go in advance of the troops, re- 
ported in his account that they had to wait for two hours in the 
Cambridge marshes and "the tide being in we were up to our 
middles before we got into the road." 32 Apparently, when the 
troops were landed on the Cambridge shore from the boats, they 
were on fairly dry land, but during the long delay the tide (Paul 
Revere said "it was young flood" when he crossed an hour or so 
earlier) had come in and filled the marshes around them. By the 
time they were finally given the order to march, it was two o'clock 
in the morning. After four hours from the time of the rendezvous 
they were about a quarter of a mile from where they started. 

The little army of seven hundred passed the Newell Tavern in 
Menotomy, north of Cambridge, about three o'clock. The alerted 
members of the Committee of Safety, Gerry, Lee, and Orne, 
peered curiously out of a darkened upstairs window at the troops 
marching by on the road below. The three dignitaries were startled 
to see a sergeant's patrol turn into the path leading to their door. 
Clad in nightshirts, they hurried to the nearest exit, which hap- 
pened to be the door the soldiers were approaching. The landlord 
shouted to Gerry, "For God's sake, don't open that door," S3 and 
took the three committeemen out through a rear door. They hid 
from the patrol by throwing themselves flat in the corn stubble of 
the field behind the tavern an experience from which old Mr. 
Lee, in his nightshirt and unaccustomed to the cold earth on an 
April night, took cold and never recovered. 

Back in Lexington the delay of the expeditionary force was so 
considerable that there arose some doubt probably much to 
Samuel Adams' distress as to whether it was coming or not. 

The first alarm to the minutemen was given immediately after 
Paul Revere's arrival at Jonas Clarke's house. Sergeant Munroe 



kept the guard at the parsonage, for his hunch" that the British 
were after Hancock and Adams seemed now confirmed by the 
letter that Revere brought from Dr. Warren. Munroe sent another 
horseman out into the night this one in the direction of Cam- 
bridge to check the size of the British force and the rate of march. 
Captain Parker had Ms minutemen, a hundred and thirty of them, 
mustered on the Common, and Daniel Harrington, the clerk of 
the company, whose house and blacksmith shop were across the 
road from the Common, read the roll. This was probably done 
at one o'clock. If the British had not wasted three hours in em- 
barking and starting their march, they would have been well on 
their way by then, probably entering the southeastern part of 
Lexington. At one o'clock, however, they were still standing in 
the Cambridge marshes and were to wait another hour before 

The night was chilly in Lexington, and some of the minuternen 
were old men. Having loaded their guns with powder and ball, they 
had nothing to do but stand there, looking at the candlelights 
flickering in the warm comfort of Buckman's Tavern across the 
road. They began to grumble as the time passed. There was no 
word from Munroe's couriers who had gone to find the British 
army and none from the three minutemen who had set out earlier 
in the night after the British officers who went to Concord. So 
Parker sent out another rider. This one came back to the Common 
at about two o'clock and reported that there was no army on the 
way to Lexington. At that hour, of course, the British were still 
getting into formation in the Cambridge marshes. So Parker dis- 
missed the company, subject to the drum call of William Diamond 
in case the British should show up after all. 

The minutemen who lived nearby went home, and the rest 
went to Buckman's Tavern, where they talked, dozed, and prob- 
ably drank a little to take the chill out of their bones. At inter- 
vals Parker sent couriers down the road toward Cambridge four 
In all but none of them came back. The disappearance of these 



horsemen permanently into the night bothered no one. It was 
apparently assumed from their failure to return that they could 
find no trace of the British or else that the latter were so far away 
that the couriers had to go all the way to Boston to find them. Lex- 
ington now had seven official couriers riding around the Middlesex 
roads in every direction; in addition Revere, Dawes, and the re- 
sourceful young Dr. Prescott, who had come to Lexington to spend 
a quiet evening with his fiancee, were bound for Concord; and 
there were also numerous individuals, including the one-armed 
peddler, riding around. But nobody had yet seen any British army. 

Back at Jonas Clarke's house, a five-minute walk from Buck- 
man's, where the remaining minutemen waited, there had been 
some activity. Paul Revere, horseless, had tramped across the old 
burial ground, where all the ancestors of the minutemen had been 
sleeping peacefully for a century and longer. He had stayed out of 
sight of the Common by going through the fields behind the 
Harrington houses, north of the Common, and thence through 
pastures and wood lots to Clarke's house. In contrast to his earlier 
visit that night, the house was bright with light, and all but the 
smallest Clarkes were wide awake. The leaders, Adams and Han- 
cock, were in conference with Jonas Clarke. Hovering around in 
the background were Aunt Lydia and Dorothy Quincy. 

Hancock was being difficult. Seized by one of his periodic 
yearnings for the dramatic, he was all for taking to the field per- 
sonally and, not forgetting that he was lately a colonel command- 
ing the Independent Corps of Cadets, stopping the British army. If 
he was seeking to impress his young and not easily impressed 
fiancee, he was wasting his time. Years afterward, when Hancock 
was in his grave, his widow, full of irreverent memories and with 
an old lady's liveliness, recalled the night of April eighteenth to 
William H. Sumner: "Mr. Hancock was all night cleaning his 
gun and sword and putting his accoutrements in order, and was 
determined to go out to the plain by the meetinghouse ... to 
fight [along] with the men who had collected . . . but partially 



provided with arms, and those that they had were in most miserable 
order." 34 While Hancock was busy with his warlike gestures, 
Clarke and Adams consulted with Captain Parker of the minute- 
men and apparently also drew Sergeant Munroe into their de- 

When Revere arrived with his report of his capture by the 
British officers and their conversation, it was agreed that the 
British meant business. It was hastily concluded that Adams and 
Hancock had better get away from Lexington before the British 
troops arrived. But up until their departure, Dorothy Quincy 
told Sumner, Hancock insisted on fighting the British himself. 
"It was with very great difficulty that he was dissuaded from it by 
Mr. Clarke and Mr. Adams." 35 He nevertheless went down to the 
Common to see the minutemen and came back to the Clarke house 
to repeat his desire to fight. Adams finally stopped his protests by 
pointing out the importance of Hancock, and incidentally of 
himself, to the leadership of the cause. With his own fanaticism 
characteristically tempered by prudence, Adams declared flatly, 
"It [fighting] is not our business. We belong to the Cabinet." 36 
This convinced Hancock finally. But, according to Sergeant Mun- 
roe's deposition, he had one last military threat to make as he 
left the Clarke house. Aunt Lydia and Dorothy Quincy remaining 
behind. "If I had my musket, I would never turn my back on 
those troops." 37 

Samuel Adams hated to ride horseback, and so a carriage was 
brought. Sergeant Munroe led the party, consisting of Adams, 
Hancock, Revere, and Hancock's secretary, John Lowell, to the 
north of Lexington. There he left them concealed in a clump of 
woods. Shortly after Munroe's departure it occurred to Hancock 
that the trunkf ul of papers, many of them dealing with the business 
of the Provincial Congress and the Committee of Safety, had 
been left behind in LowelFs room at the Buckman Tavern, right 
beside the Common where the British might easily capture it. 
Revere and Lowell went back to get it before the British appeared. 



So the long visit of Samuel Adams and John Hancock to the 
little village of Lexington came to an end early on the morning of 
April nineteenth although from all the evidence later available, 
particularly General Gage's orders to Colonel Smith, they could 
have stayed in Jonas Clarke's house until they left for Philadelphia. 
For four weeks Adams, Hancock, and Clarke had been together. 
For three days, since Revere's Sunday visit, they knew that a 
British march into the countryside, probably through Lexington 
to Concord, was likely. For four hours, they knew that it was 
certain. Since Hancock's behavior, brave or simply foolhardy as 
it may have been, during those last four hours, ruled him out as 
a serious adviser on the military situation (he apparently saw 
nothing unwise and useless in the President of the Provincial 
Congress standing with sword drawn and pistol cocked in the line 
of march of British soldiers supposedly intent on arresting him), 
Adams and Clarke unquestionably made up a policy between 
themselves. Adams knew the broad strategy of the resistance, be- 
cause he was at this point its sole architect. Clarke knew the men 
of Lexington and, what is more, could control them as no outsider 
could. The policy obviously determined upon between the time of 
Revere's first alarm and of the minutemen's first muster and the 
time of the actual arrival of the British troops, was for the minute- 
men, however outnumbered, to make a conspicuous stand but not 
to fire. 

As for Captain Parker, he was a simple farmer, of some military 
experience but with no pretensions to wisdom in grand political 
strategy. There were only two sources of counsel that he would be 
apt to heed on such matters. One was his only formal source of 
authority, the Provincial Congress, whose real leader, Samuel 
Adams, was five minutes' walk from Parker's headquarters at 
Buckman's all that night of alarms. The other was the Reverend 
Jonas Clarke, Parker's pastor and friend, the real political leader 
of Lexington and the draftsman of its statements of public policy in 
provincial affairs. It is inconceivable that in all those hours of wait- 



ing, Parker would not have had the counsel of Adams and Clarke 
if not their directives. And it is the only explanation of Parker's 
conduct as commander of the minutemen on Lexington Common. 
Now, "between daylight and sunrise/' as Sergeant Munroe, 
who had returned from showing Adams and Hancock to their 
retreat in the woods, put it. Captain Parker got his first definite 
word that the British were indeed coming. It was four-thirty in 
the morning now. All Captain Parker's minutemen, except for the 
twenty-five or thirty at Buckman's Tavern, had gone home. And 
the British force of seven hundred light infantry and grenadiers 
was a mile and a quarter away. Captain Parker aroused William 
Diamond and sent him out on the Common to beat the drum call 
to arms. 


After all the inefficiency of Lieutenant Colonel Smith and the 
British and after all the efficiency of Dr. Warren in Boston and 
Revere and Dawes, Captain Parker and the Lexington militia 
ended up with about fifteen minutes to prepare for their gallant 
but absurdly hopeless appearance against the British. This was 
due to the fact that, unlike the British officers who had been sent 
out in advance of the troops the previous afternoon and who 
caught provincial messengers only to let them go again, there were 
two highly competent junior officers moving somewhat in advance 
of the force itself; Lieutenant Sutherland, the last-minute volun- 
teer, and Lieutenant Adair, of the Second Marines Regiment. One 
of them on each side of the road, Sutherland and Adair captured 
the Lexington scouts in a systematic and rapid way as soon as 
they came within reach. The first two the one sent out by 
Sergeant Munroe and the first of Captain Parker's four they 
encountered an hour after their march began, that is, about three 
o'clock. "I heard Lieutenant Adair . . . call out, 'Here are two 
fellows galloping express to alarm the country,' " Sutherland re- 


ported; "on which I immediately rode up to them, seized one of 
them, and our guide [a Boston Tory who accompanied the British] 
the other, dismounted them, and by Major Pitcaira's direction, 
gave them in charge of the men." 38 

A little while afterward Major Mitchell and his fellow officers 
who had captured Paul Revere, the three Lexington minutemen, 
and the peddler on the Concord road and let them all go, ap- 
proached Sutherland and Adair. Apparently having swallowed 
Paul Revere's story that there were five hundred militia on Lex- 
ington Common to intercept the British, Mitchell told Sutherland 
that the whole country was alarmed and that he and his eleven 
brother officers "had galloped for their lives" a remarkably 
imaginary exposition for a military report, since the only pro- 
vincials they had encountered, all without weapons, were a courier, 
three Lexington scouts, and a one-armed peddler. But Mitchell's 
dramatic story further alerted Sutherland and Adair, who shortly 
saw another rider approaching them at a crossroad. They shouted 
for him to stop, but he spurred his horse and took off. A surgeon's 
mate of the Forty-third Infantry took up the chase and caught him. 
This accounted for Captain Parker's second scout. 

Sutherland and his companion, who were having a singularly 
gregarious time of it for a country ride at three o'clock in the 
morning, then met a mysterious "very genteel man, riding in a 
carriage they call a sulky, who assured me there were six hundred 
men assembled at Lexington." 39 Who this respectable bluffer, 
who had a story matching Revere's, was, nobody knows; but his 
information obviously strengthened the British conviction, origi- 
nating with Major Mitchell's preposterous tale, that they were in 
for a battle. 

No sooner had the busy Sutherland got through with the genteel 
man in the sulky than another rider came charging out of another 
crossroad. Mitchell seized the bridle of his horse and dismounted 
him Parker's third scout. As daylight began to break faintly in 
the eastern sky, Sutherland met "some men with a wagon of wood 



who told us there were odds of one thousand men in arms at 
Lexington and added that they would fight us. 5340 The accumula- 
tion of all this arithmetical information on the size of the provincial 
force, which at the time consisted of twenty-five or thirty men 
dozing in Buckman's, had a sobering effect on the already sober 
Sutherland. He and Adair decided that they had better turn 
around and find their own main forces, of whom they were now 
quite far in advance, having already reached the southeastern 
fringes of Lexington. But instead of finding the British troops, 
they came upon "a vast number of the country militia going over 
the hill with their arms to Lexington." Sutherland captured one 
of them, Benjamin Wellington, a Lexington minuteman, who was 
locally famous as "the first man to carry milk as far as Boston." 
Sutherland disarmed him and told him to go home. (Wellington 
went to the meetinghouse instead, got another gun, and joined the 
other minutemen. ) Sutherland then continued to go back down the 
road toward Boston until he reached the advanced section of the 
British force under Major Pitcairn. 

Earlier in the march Lieutenant Colonel Smith had detached 
six companies of light infantry, about two hundred men, from his 
main force and sent them ahead under the command of Pitcairn 
to seize and hold the two bridges over the Concord River. This was 
in accordance with the orders that he had from Gage, who ap- 
parently had it in mind that the action would cut off militia from 
the back country from molesting the other British troops while they 
went about the main business of destroying the provincial stores 
in the town of Concord. As soon as Pitcairn was advised by 
Sutherland that there were apparently militia to the number of a 
thousand men swarming all over the countryside, he ordered his 
troops to stop and prime and load their guns. Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith, meanwhile, had dispatched a messenger back to Boston to 
tell General Gage that the whole expedition was not going as well 
or as simply as planned and to urge upon the general to send out 
additional forces to help him. 


From all the information that the British now had, their situa- 
tion was not very happy. They were not only three hours behind 
schedule and would be marching into Concord in broad daylight, 
but there was a force of anything from five hundred to a thousand 
militia waiting for them at Lexington. And from what the British 
officers knew of colonial fighting, the militia would be firing from 
concealed positions behind stone walls, trees, farmhouses, and 
barns. The officers had to assume a vigorous attack and prepare for 
it. What they were to come upon, of course, was Captain Parker's 
little band of no more than forty or fifty lined up like targets on 
the open plain of Lexingtpn Common. 

As far as Captain Parker knew, on the other hand, there were 
twice as many British troops on the march than was actually the 
case twelve to fifteen hundred as opposed to six or seven hundred. 
Parker's fourth scout of the night, Thaddeus Bowman, had eluded 
Sutherland, who had rejoined the main forces. Bowman saw the 
British forces when they were a mile and a half away from the 
Common, and it was his news that sent William Diamond out to 
beat the drum call. 

With the British only about twenty minutes away Parker had 
little time to lose, but there was still time to send the men already 
in Buckman's out behind walls or trees to keep the British under 
observation and to make them convenient targets if necessary. 
There was time to send his corporals to outposts on the roads 
approaching the Common to disperse the minutemen arriving in 
response to William Diamond's drum at concealed spots all around 
the Common. Instead, Parker told Munroe to line up the handful 
of minutemen present in rows on the Common. New arrivals were 
shunted into the two thin rows, as they reached the Common, and 
those who were unarmed went into the meetinghouse to get guns. 

Down the road, which was straight and level for a thousand 
yards before it reached the Common, the steady beat to arms of 
William Diamond's drum was final and indisputable proof to the 



British that their march was to be contested within a matter of 

From the vantage point of an upstairs room in Buckman's 
Tavern, where he had gone with John Lowell for Hancock's 
trunk, Paul Revere looked down the Lexington road, almost a 
quarter of a mile, toward Cambridge. "I saw the ministerial troops 
from the chamber window, coming up the road," Revere recalled. 
His only concern now was to get Hancock's trunk away. "We made 
haste and had to pass through our militia, who were on a green 
behind the meetinghouse, to the number, as I supposed, of fifty 
or sixty. It was then daylight." Revere, whose role was of such 
dramatic dimensions earlier in the night, had degenerated by now 
into a general utility man. By the time the battle launching the war 
of the American Revolution began, he was so occupied in lugging 
a trunk up Bedford Road from Lexington Common that he did 
not witness the event. "I could not see our militia for they were 
covered from me by a house at the bottom of the road." 41 



: We shall be ready to sacrifice > life itself" 


Lexington, April 25, 1775 

I, John Parker, of lawful age y and commander of the Militia in 
Lexington, do testify and declare, that on the nineteenth instant, 
in the morning, about one of the clock, being informed that there 
were a number of Regular Officers riding up and down the road, 
stopping and insulting people as they passed the road, and also was 
informed that a number of Regular Troops were on their march 
from Boston, in order to take the Province Stores at Concord, 
ordered our militia to meet on the common in said Lexington, to 
consult what to do 3 and concluded not to be discovered, nor meddle 
or make with said Regular Troops (if they should approach) un- 
less they should insult us; and upon their sudden approach, I 
immediately ordered our Militia to disperse and not to fire. Imme- 
diately said Troops made their appearance and rushed furiously } 
fired upon and killed eight of our party, with out receiving any 
provocation therefor from us. 

John Parker 



Middlesex, ss., April 25, 1775: 

The above named John Parker personally appeared^ and after 
being duly cautioned to declare the whole truth, made solemn oath 
to the truth of the above deposition., by him subscribed. Before us, 

Wm. Reed 
Josiah Johnson 
Wm. Stickney 


This is all that Captain John Parker ever said of the affair, and 
it all leads up to a giant contradiction. He telescopes time a little 
bit; it was "one of the clock 33 when he got the news and, shortly 
after that when he ordered the muster of the minutemen on the 
Common "to consult what to do," and then he dismissed the com- 
pany. Three hours, at least, passed before he mustered them 
a gai n three hours during which he had time to talk with Han- 
cock, Adams, and Clarke. His first instinct not to act like an 
authoritative military commander but to "consult" with his neigh- 
bors and friends "what to do" was a perfectly natural one. The 
minutemen were not easy men to order around. They were less a 
military company than a voluntary, self-governing unit re- 
sourceful, responsible, unafraid, but a collection of men who had 
no bosses in their ordinary daily lives and who did not lend 
themselves very readily to the mechanical response to orders 
snapped at them by someone else. If Parker hadn't known this, 
they would never have elected him their captain. They knew that 
he was the kind of man who would, in an emergency involving 
them as much as him, "consult what to do." 

For his part, Parker, having lived all his life in Lexington, knew 
these men who constituted his little militia well. He had gone to 
school with them, went to church with them, fought alongside some 
of them in the French and Indian wars, and was related either 
directly or by marriage to many of them. The last thing that would 
have occurred to him was that the relationship between him as 


General Thomas Gage (1721-87),, married to an American^ 
was a gentle occupation commander. He was recalled to Eng- 
land six months after Lexington and never returned to 

Major John Pitcairn (1722-75) of the Royal Marines, second 
in command of the British forces, was disgusted with the con- 
duct of his troops. He died two months after Lexington at the 
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their captain and them as members of Ms company could be as 
brisk and cold and automatic as that between a regular officer 
and his troops. And Parker knew enough also about war in the 
still heavily wooded American countryside to understand that, if 
war came, the cause of the colonies would be less dependent upon 
the parade ground discipline of the militia than upon those very 
characteristics of individualism, independence, and resourcefulness 
that made them unlikely exhibits on a parade ground but hard men 
to beat in country warfare. 

So John Parker consulted with these men, this varied assortment 
who had paid him the compliment of electing him their captain. 
They concluded not to make themselves conspicuous or to "med- 
dle" with the British troops; and then they went home, or dozed 
around Buckman's, until they were called again. Parker obviously 
kept busy. He sent one messenger after another to find out and 
report to him whether the British troops were on the Lexington- 
Cambridge road and how far away. Dorothy Quincy remembered 
that Hancock went down to the Common. It can be taken as 
certain that, if he went, so did Samuel Adams, who would never 
have let him out of sight in the midst of such promising events ; and 
Clarke would have guided them down the road from the parson- 
age, around the corner of the Common to Buckman's. The captain 
of the militia would have discussed the night's affairs with the 
President of the Provincial Congress and with the Delegate to the 
Continental Congress and with his own pastor. And it was con- 
cluded, from the evidence of what happened afterward, that the 
minutemen would make a show of strength on the open Common, 
but that they would not fire. Apparently they would just stand 
there, as seven hundred British soldiers, on their first expedition 
after a year's dreary occupation of an isolated peninsular port 
town, marched harmlessly by a few feet away. Whatever anyone 
else thought of this placid picture, Samuel Adams, who had a 
profound understanding of the abrasive qualities inherent in such 
a situation, knew better. All his ten years' experience with the 



Boston mobs, all his careful manipulation and channeling of the 
prides and prejudices, strengths and weaknesses, capacities and 
limitations of human beings as parts of a group would have gone 
for nothing if he hadn't known better. And, what was worse, so 
would have the unbelievably singlehanded success of Samuel 
Adams, thus far, in keeping the issue of revolt against Great Britain 
alive in the colonies. 

Parker's men took a suicidal stand, and the issue burst fully into 
life. When the approach of the British was unmistakable, he had 
sent young William Diamond to beat the call to arms. He met the 
assembling men on the Common and told Sergeant Munroe to 
draw them up in the two long thin lines to make them look more 
formidable in numbers than they really were. Having perhaps 
twenty minutes from the time that Thaddeus Bowman came to 
him with the last intelligence of the morning until the British were 
upon him, he made no effort to get his men into the readily avail- 
able positions in adjacent pastures and woodlands from which they 
could have both observed the British and had the advantage of 
surprise and mobility in case of conflict. But he lined them up on 
the Common, with orders not to fire. 

All this was as it should be if one understood Adams' growing 
problem of unifying the colonies behind some incontrovertible 
event that would make it clear to any American colonist that life 
under the British was utterly impossible. Adams, of course, was 
familiar with all the rabble-rouser charges against him and knew 
also that many of the Middle Atlantic and Southern colonists, 
sympathetic and active in the colonial cause, regarded him as an 
inciter of mob actions when it suited his political purposes. But 
this time he had something to go on. He was fresh from a meeting 
of the Provincial Congress that had just decided, not without his 
guidance, "that should any body of troop with artillery and bag- 
gage, march out of Boston, the country should instantly be 
alarmed, and called together to oppose their march to the last 
extremity. 5 ' 3 Adams would be willing to take a chance on the ex- 



pedltlonary forces of the nineteenth having artillery or baggage 
with them. 

If after his original consultation with his minutemen on the 
Common at the first alarm Parker was advised by the high 
leadership concentrated by chance in Lexington that night, not 
having any other authority over him and no military superior 
present, he would have seen it as appropriate and fitting to 
acquiesce. His own military experience would have made him 
realize that a company captain is not a general or a strategical staff. 
But once the British started to move toward his men, from the 
road on to the Common, he felt as any company commander and 
ranking officer present would : the situation, including their safety, 
was entirely his responsibility. And he ordered them, not to stand 
their ground and not to fire, but to disperse. It was the only battle 
order that he said he gave; and it was the only one that any officer 
in his situation could have given. As it turned out, it served Adams' 
cause just as well. 


Full of bloated intelligence that had from five hundred to a 
thousand militia concentrated in Lexington to mow them down, 
the five British advanced light infantry companies, with Major 
Pitcairn in command, moved into the straight stretch of the road 
from which the Common was in sight. Their guns were primed 
and loaded. They expected a fight. Pitcaim, with some of his 
mounted officers, rode up to the head of the column. 

The Lexington Common that Pitcairn saw that April sunrise 
was a two-acre triangle, not wholly open but somewhat cluttered 
for its size with the ungainly three-storied oblong meetinghouse 
facing down the road toward the oncoming British. On the left 
was the belfry that looked as if it had been plucked off the top of 
the meetinghouse by some gargantuan child and left incongruously 
at its side. Behind the belfry was the little schoolhouse and to its 



left the well put there for the townspeople's use. Behind the 
meetinghouse was a large tree, but the Common was otherwise 
almost entirely cleared. On the road to the right, as Pitcairn ap- 
proached the Common, was Buckman's Tavern, a pleasantly 
proportioned building with two massive chimneys and already 
nearly a century old. Stretching along the Bedford Road toward 
Jonas Clarke's house was the tavern's string of stables and out- 
buildings. Almost directly across the Common from Buckman's, 
on the left road leading to Concord, was the house of Marrett 
Munroe, married to Captain Parker's sister, whose son, Nathan, 
was among the minutemen assembled on the Common. And 
facing the Common from the north side, looking down across it 
to the road from Boston were two other houses both, like Mar- 
rett Munroe's, with that sensitive regard for proportions that dis- 
tinguished the buildings of villages all over New England in the 
eighteenth century. In one of these lived Daniel Harrington, the 
clerk of Captain Parker's company, who had read the roll earlier 
that night, his wife, and their seven young children. In the other 
lived young Jonathan Harrington and his wife and small son. 
Between the houses, set back a distance, was David Harrington's 
blacksmith shop, as handsomely proportioned as the houses. For 
the rest, surrounding the Common, there were only pastures and 
woodlands and, a little off toward the west off the Concord road, 
the old burial ground. 

On and around the little Common stood perhaps a quarter of 
the town's population. Sergeant Munroe had got some forty of his 
minutemen in line; perhaps thirty more were milling around, 
going to the meetinghouse for ammunition, coming in across the 
meadows and pastures from their houses, crossing the road from 
Buckman's. Other townspeople, unarmed but curious, stood 
around the Common, in the yards of the three houses or behind 
the stone walls of the pastures and meadows Jonas Clarke among 
them later on. From their own windows the families of Daniel and 
Jonathan Harrington and Nathan Munroe could watch all that 



went on. Seventy militia, more or less; a hundred spectators, most 
of whom would be getting up at this hour anyway; and, hauling 
the trunk up the edge of the Common, Revere and Lowell this 
was the formidable force that confronted Major Pitcairn and his 
five companies of light infantry as they came within sight of the 

Primed as they were for at least five hundred and possibly a 
thousand aimed belligerents, the approaching British must have at 
first got the impression that the whole number present was much 
larger than it actually was, and in the dawning light it would have 
been difficult to distinguish combatant from spectator. Yet there 
was no mention later by the British officers of the figures five hun- 
dred or a thousand. Major Pitcairn thought that he saw "near two 
hundred of the rebels/ 94 Ensign de Berniere of the Tenth Infan- 
try's light infantry company, which was in the van of the British 
inarch, said that "there were about a hundred and fifty rebels," 
and he also mentioned that the militia were drawn out widely 
separated in their lines. 5 The disgruntled Lieutenant Barker of The 
King's Own Regiment, who resented so much the delay at Cam- 
bridge and was convinced from the beginning that the whole 
expedition would fail, put the number "between two and three 
hundred." 6 The British official reports, in language of qualifying 
vagueness, used "about two hundred." 7 Only the British captured 
later in the day and who gave depositions to the provincials came 
closer in their estimates, perhaps because they did not have to 
justify actions of the British army any longer or perhaps because 
the provincial authorities saw to it that they did not over- 
estimate the size of their opposition. John Bateman of the Fifty- 
second Regiment deposed "there was a small party of men gathered 
together/ 58 and Lieutenant Edward Gould of The King's Own was 
the most nearly accurate of all: "We saw a body of provincial 
troops armed, to the number of about sixty or seventy men." 9 

Although little more than half of them got into Sergeant 
Munroe's deceptively stretched out platoons, Captain Parker did 



have some seventy men altogether on or near the Common. Even 
this small number constituted one tenth of Lexington's entire 
population and little less than half the adult male population. And 
they were, in fact,, pretty much what would be found as the male 
population of any country village. Among the oldest was Ensign 
Robert Munroe, the old veteran officer who had fought other wars 
on the British side. At sixty-three, he could have been excused from 
duty as a minuteman, but old men of his type are not easy to put 
aside, and he joined his two sons and two sons-in-law in the field. 
Of the same determined bend was his fifty-four-year-old cousin, 
Jedediah Munroe, who armed himself with in addition to his 
musket a long sword brought by his forebears from Scotland. 
Another senior minuteman was the close neighbor of the pastor and 
a first cousin of Captain Parker, the aging Jonas Parker, who had 
told everyone in Lexington that, no matter what the circumstances, 
he would never run from the British, and whose son, Jonas, Jr., 
stood at his side. The oldest of all was Grandfather Moses Har- 
rington, sixty-five, whose youngest son Caleb was with him. His 
nephew, Jonathan, who owned the house facing the Common, 
was also with him, and so were a dozen other nephews and remote 
cousins. There were other father-and-son combinations: old 
Thomas Hadley and his son, Samuel; John Muzzy and his oldest 
son, Isaac. Altogether there were eight father-and-son combina- 
tions on the Common. There were also very young men, twelve in 
their teens and a score in their twenties. Most of them were farmers, 
but there were also tradesmen among them. 

There was the slave, Prince Estabrook, highly popular with 
Lexington children as a willing referee in their games. There 
were also some minutemen from the companies of other towns who 
just happened to be in Lexington by chance and who enlisted in 
Parker's company for the night. As a military company the whole 
collection would never look like much: some old men, a generous 
block of the middle-aged, some inexperienced youths in their teens. 
They had with them their old hunting muskets, or else they had to 



go to the meetinghouse to get one belonging to the town. Half of 
them had gone home and back to deep since the first alarm and 
did not move too quickly, and many of them were not in a position 
to hear any orders that Captain Parker might give. Several, like 
Joseph Comee, were in the meetinghouse, out of ear-range of the 
orders of Captain Parker or anyone else outside. 

As he saw this group on the Common, Major Pitcairn, a man 
of quick and sound judgment, saw clearly enough how to handle 
it. He ordered his soldiers not to fire but to surround the motley 
group and disarm it. He did not even want to capture them. In 
the first place, he regarded the whole thing as a civil action, in- 
volving not an army but British subjects in violation of the govern- 
ment's laws; in the second place, there were specific orders not to 
molest the inhabitants; third, the purpose of the expedition was to 
destroy the stores at Concord and to get back to Boston; finally, 
no provision was made for the taking or transporting of prisoners. 
On the other hand, he could not just let them go away with their 
arms, possibly to follow his line of march to Concord, taking pot- 
shots at his troops on the way. So he did what had to be done: "I 
instantly called to the soldiers not to fire but to surround and disarm 
them." 10 

By this time some of Parker's men had heard their own captain's 
almost simultaneous order to disperse : "I immediately ordered our 
troops to disperse and not to fire"* 1 - 

There were then, so far as the testimony of both commanding 
officers go, only two orders given. Both included the directive "not 
to fire." That these were the orders given was confirmed on both 
sides. Lieutenant Sutherland, who was one of the mounted officers 
close to Pitcairn, wrote: "I heard Major Pitcaim's voice call out, 
'Soldiers, don't fire, keep your ranks, form and surround them/ " 12 
And Ensign de Berniere, in the first company of light infantry: 
"He ordered our light infantry to advance and disarm them." 13 
As the light infantry moved to the right of the meetinghouse and 
between it and Buckman's Tavern, toward the militia, somewhat 



behind the meetinghouse. Major Pitcairn and his group of 
mounted officers galloped their horses around the left of the meet- 
inghouse. This was a sensible tactic for Pitcaim, because it would 
put him to one side of both forces, in ready hearing range of either, 
it still being a point of some consequence to him that the colonists 
were as much subjects of the King as the troops were. There he 
repeated his order to his own troops, and he told the colonists to 
lay down their arms. 

Those of Captain Parker's company who were on the Common 
had heard his order to disperse, and they started to break ranks. 
But they did not disperse in a very orderly or uniformly prompt 
manner "many of them not so speedily as they might have done/ 5 
said Jonas Clarke. 14 Men like these were not apt by training or by 
nature to react instantly or uniformly. Besides, some of them who 
had grown up with John Parker would be much more apt to 
consider an order from him a strong suggestion than an absolute 
directive. A few would do as they pleased. One such, old Jonas 
Parker, the captain's first cousin, filled his hat full of flints and 
musket balls, set it on the ground conveniently between his feet, 
and prepared to spend the rest of the morning there if need be to 
fight it out with the British. It was he who had had no intention to 
run. Others of the company drifted slowly toward the edges of the 
Common, taking their muskets with them. Some hurried away at 
Parker's order, but they also took their guns. No one followed 
Pitcairn's order to lay down his arms. 

While this somewhat straggling performance was going on, the 
British light infantry, in the custom of the day, started shouting as 
they charged forward. Someone, possibly one of the provincials 
off the Common, fired a shot. Perhaps it was meant to be an addi- 
tional alarm a common practice since the days of Indian raids. 
Or perhaps a British soldier, carried away by the excitement, fired 
at the minutemen. Or else a young officer backed up an order to the 
minutemen to lay down their arms with a warning shot from his 
pistol. Or possibly someone's musket flashed in the pan by accident. 



In any case, the tense but almost silent scene of a moment earlier 
on the little Common erupted suddenly into noisy, wholly uncon- 
trolled violence. And Major Pitcairn, an officer of the Marines 
commanding light infantry companies, could not restrain the 
troops, who had long since broken ranks and were firing at random 
with no orders from anyone. Pitcaim rode in among them, 
shouting orders to stop the firing and striking his sword down- 
ward furiously in the regulation cease-fire signal. The light infantry 
paid no attention to him. As a Marine officer, Pitcaim's contempt 
thereafter for the light infantry, up to his death at Bunker Hill 
three months later, was withering. The official reports of all the 
British command officers that day made some pro forma comment 
on the courage and intrepidity of His Majesty's troops. But not 
Pitcairn. He said that he would "in as concise a manner as possible 
state the facts," and he was scathing in his conciseness: ". . . 
without any order or regularity, the light infantry began a scat- 
tered fire and continued in that situation for some little time, 
contrary to the repeated orders both of me and the officers that 
were present." 15 

Lieutenant Barker of the King's Own, of course, was not sur- 
prised at any of this and in his diary was just as contemptuous of 
his fellow infantrymen as Pitcairn was: ". . . our men without 
any orders rushed in upon them . . . the men were so wild they 
could hear no orders." 16 Some of the junior officers, however, 
seemed to be under the impression that the firing was ordered and 
certainly had none of the sense of outrage about it that Pitcairn 
showed. Ensign Jeremy Lister, whose company was the first on the 
Common, took the firing as inevitable and, perhaps with the 
bravado of very young officers, as a light matter; "we returned 
their salute" was the way Lister put it. 17 But de Berniere, who was 
a serious-minded and responsible young officer, said simply that 
"our soldiers returned the fire." 18 Lieutenant Sutherland, who had 
got into all this from insisting on going along as a last-inimite 
volunteer, was a resourceful and rather sober officer,, and on ar- 


riving with Pitcaini on the Common immediately rode Ms horse 
in among the minutemen, repeating Pitcairn's orders to them to 
lay down their arms. He gave no information in his account on 
the manner in which the British started their firing, for he had 
troubles of his own. He did not have his own horse or even an army 
horse. His mount was appropriated from one of the Middlesex 
countrymen he had intercepted during the night's march, and the 
horse took a disturbed view of all the shouts and shots and con- 
fusion on the Common. On the first exchange of shots Sutherland's 
horse took off, dashing right through the midst of the dispersing 
militia and then six hundred yards up the road toward Jonas 
Clarke's house. By the time he got his horse turned and back, 
the minutemen had all disappeared into the woods and the grena- 
diers had arrived. 

Meanwhile, most of Parker's men were dispersing, although a 
few stayed where they were. As soon as they got off the Common, 
a few of the dispersers turned and fired, and apparently there was 
some firing from Buckman's Tavern (which was returned, the 
shot in the door still being visible) and from the meetinghouse. 
Altogether there were known to be only eight minutemen who 
actually fired on the British, and the engagement on the Common 
was less a battle or even a skirmish than an hysterical massacre at 
the hands of badly disciplined British soldiers. 

Old Jedediah Munroe, who had brought the ancestral sword 
along, did not even have time to use his musket, for he was shot 
down and wounded early in the affray. Ensign Robert Munroe, 
Lexington's local hero at the capture of Louisburg, thirty years 
earlier, was killed before firing a shot. Corporal John Munroe, on 
the first discharge, thought that the British were just firing powder 
and told his cousin Ebenezer so. Just then one musket ball entered 
Ebenezer's arm, another grazed his cheek, and a third ripped a 
hole in his coat. He lifted his own musket and fired. His cousin 
John stuffed two balls down the muzzle of his gun, having rammed 


It with enough powder to fire a cannon, took aim, and fired. A foot 
of the muzzle was shot off with the balk 

The only other minuteman who fired while still in the line was 
Jonas Parker, the captain's old cousin, who was never going to run. 
He was hit before he fired, and took aim and shot from the ground. 
He then reached for a ball and flint from his hat that he had set so 
conveniently on the ground between his feet, when he was run 
through with a British bayonet. Along with Parker and Robert 
Munroe, two other minutemen were killed on the Common proper 
before they had much chance to fire at the British. Isaac Muzzy, 
who had arrived with Ms father, was shot down near his position 
in the line, and so was Jonathan Harrington, whose house stood 
not a hundred yards away. Ruth Fiske HaningtoiL, the Lexington 
doctor's niece, who had married Jonathan Hairington nine years 
earlier, and their eight-year-old son watched the young minuteman 
crawl across the green of the Common to his own doorstep, where 
he died. 

The rest of the dead were killed after they had left the Common 
but were still close to it. Samuel Hadley and John Brown were both 
killed after leaving the Common. Another man, Ashabel Porter of 
Wobum, one of the riders of the night picked up by the British and 
taken captive by them, saw the battle on the Common as a chance 
to escape, and he bolted from the British lines before the segment 
he was in reached the Common. He was shot and killed as he ran 

The American fire did not come close to matching the British in 
volume, and it was extremely erratic and irregular, Solomon 
Brown, who had been the first to discover the advance British 
officers from Boston that morning and caused Sergeant Munroe 
to post the guard around Hancock's house, fired from behind a 
stone wall just beyond Buckmaif s Tavern ; two British musket balls 
barely missed him, one ripping his coat and another hitting the 
wall. Brown made a wide swing around to the back door of 
Buckman's, to which he supposed most of the minutemen, perhaps 



from habit, had withdrawn. As he went through the tavern, how- 
ever, he found no one except the baffled one-armed peddler, who 
had wandered into history by being taken prisoner with Revere 
and the others earlier that morning. Brown opened the front door, 
by which time the rear units of the British were abreast of the 
tavern alongside the Common. Brown picked a likely British officer 
as a target, aimed, and fired. He got an enlisted man of another 
company in the leg. 

Lieutenant William Tidd, Captain Parker's second in com- 
mand, got clear of the Common on Parker's command to disperse 
and started up the road toward Clarke's house. A mounted officer 
pursued Mm, so Tidd jumped a fence, took aim and fired. He 
missed, but he got away. 

Jonathan Harrington's cousin, Caleb, had gone into the meet- 
inghouse for more powder with Joshua Simonds and Joseph 
Comee. All three found themselves in danger of being cut off from 
their company by the British. Caleb Harrington and Comee 
decided to make a run for it. When he got outside, Comee found 
that he was already separated from the militia to the north of the 
meetinghouse by the first platoon of the British Tenth Infantry, 
and the second platoon on his south side. Between two enemy 
platoons, he made a lightning dash westward across the Common 
to Marrett Munroe's house, running a gantlet of musket balls all 
the way. One of the musket balls hit him in the arm, but he kept 
going into the Munroe house and, right through it, out of the back 
door. Caleb Harrington, headed in the same direction, did not 
make it and was killed in the attempt. Joshua Simonds saw 
Harrington fall and ducked back into the meetinghouse, sure that 
a British platoon would be in after him. He lay down on the floor, 
stuck the muzzle of his gun into a barrel of powder and, keeping his 
eyes on the door, waited to pull the trigger and blow the place up 
when the British entered. 

Joshua Simonds came closer than he knew to blowing up the 
meetinghouse. While Pitcairn had thus far borne the whole burden 



of the aff air for the British, with the recalcitrant infantrymen act- 
ing like members of a mob, the portly Lieutenant Colonel Smith, 
whose own regiment's company of light infantry was first on the 
Common, was, of course, late. He said afterward that he was back 
in the line of march somewhere and, apparently after hearing the 
firing, hurried up to the head of the column. By then the men of 
his own regiment were firing indiscriminately, paying no attention 
to the officers or their orders. The sight of the chaotic firing, 
shouting, and random running around of the soldiers, with the 
officers vainly bellowing orders, seemed to have an arousing eff ect 
upon the Lieutenant Colonel. "I endeavored to the utmost to stop 
all further firing, which in a short time I effected.' 519 Lieutenant 
Sutherland, whose commandeered provincial horse had darted 
away at the first shots, got back to the Common by the time that 
Smith got there and noted how Smith got the troops to cease 
firing: "On my coming up, Colonel Smith turned to me, asked 
me, do you know where a drummer is, which I found, who im- 
mediately beat to arms, when the men ceased firing." 20 

Smith then noted, with some horror as though he recognized 
the wild mood of his troops, that groups of them were about to try- 
to force their way into the dwellings around the Common, 
Buckman's Tavern, and the meetinghouse, where Joshua Simonds 
lay with the muzzle of his loaded gun stuck in the barrel of powder 
ready to make a resounding understatement of Smith's com- 
ment that he knew "if the houses were once broke into, none within 
could well be saved." 21 

Smith unquestionably was the man who salvaged what was left 
of a situation he should have avoided. The men of the Tenth 
Regiment recognized their own colonel and were suddenly sobered 
into listening to orders, and the impersonal beat of the drum 
brought about an automatic reaction. In his analysis of the 
episode, however, Smith was silly in his overeagerness to sound 
like a highly successful officer merely because he finally stopped 
his own troops from rioting; and he seemed not to know very 



much about the real facts of the action. "The troops then near the 
meetinghouse and dwellings, much enraged at the treatment they 
had received [during the entire encounter one British soldier had 
been nicked in the leg] and having been fired on from the houses 
repeatedly [there were no armed men in any of the houses, except 
for the few seconds that it took Joseph Comee to race through 
Marrett Munroe's house away from the Common], were going to 
break them open to come at those within ; though they deserved no 
favor ... I was desirous of putting a stop to all further slaughter 
of those deluded people, therefore gave orders, and by the 
assistance of some of the officers prevented any one house being 
entered." 22 

By the time the firing ceased, the grenadiers had come up, and 
Smith's whole force of seven hundred men swarmed over the 
Common and the roads around it. Not a provincial, except those 
lying dead or wounded on the ground, was in sight. Probably there 
was some careful peering through the windows of the houses and 
taverns or from behind trees in the surrounding fields. But the 
Common and the roads bordering it was a mass of scarlet coats, 
as the officers attempted to get the men back in some sort of order. 
"We then formed on the Common," said Lieutenant Barker, "but 
with some difficulty ... we waited a considerable time there." 23 

Both Smith and Pitcairn, who ought to have been aware of the 
vast implications of their morning's work, appeared before the 
ranks and dressed them down for "the too great warmth of the 
soldiers in not attending to their officers, and keeping their ranks," 
and they urged "a more steady conduct to them in the future." 24 
But Smith and Pitcaim were army officers and not politicians or 
diplomats, and their assignment was to march to Concord and 
destroy the stores there. So they had the troops replenish their 
cartridge boxes and, before marching off the Common and down 
the road toward Concord, allowed them to fire a victory volley 
and shout out the three cheers traditional in the British army after 



a successful engagement. This irritated the Reverend Jonas 
Clarke more than even the wanton destruction of life had: "how 
far it was expressive of bravery, heroism, and true military 
glory * . . must be submitted to the impartial world to judge." 25 


Scunying with John Hancock from their woodland hideout 
where Sergeant Munroe had taken them, Samuel Adams heard 
the sound of gunfire floating out over the early morning quiet of 
the country. His reaction was exultant, although he did not know 
who was being killed. "O, what a glorious morning is this," he 
exclaimed. Hancock, annoyed by the physical discomfort of life 
in the woods, said he thought it was a strange time to comment 
on the weather. "I mean what a glorious morning for America," 
Adams said, and the town of Lexington later adopted it as a legend 
for the town seal. The agitator was not without a sense of ceremony 
when the occasion called for it. 

When the British moved on toward Concord, not more than half 
an hour after they had rushed onto Lexington Common and had 
shown no interest whatsoever in Adams and Hancock, the latter 
were on their way to their next refuge the Thomas Jones house in 
Woburn. At this point, Hancock, who unlike Adams was seeing 
all the events of the day in terms only of his own affairs, thought 
of his aunt and his fiancee back at Jonas Clarke's house. He sent a 
messenger to them, telling them to get a carriage and join him at 
Woburn. He also directed them "to bring the fine salmon that they 
had had sent to them for dinner." 26 

Aunt Lydia and Dorothy had watched the fighting from an 
upstairs window in Clarke's house, though they could have seen 
little more than the puffs of smoke from the shots, had seen the 
first wounded brought in, and had helped bundle off to safer places 
the smaller Clarke children. Now they got the carriage and brought 
John Hancock his salmon. Hancock got into an argument with 


Dorothy Quincy about her proposal to return to Boston, where 
her father was; and she was getting the better of the argument 
("Recollect, Mr. Hancock, I am not under your control yet. I 
shall go to my father/' 27 ) when Aunt Lydia stepped in and settled 
the dispute. 

However glorious the morning to Adams and to America, it 
was becoming a nuisance to Hancock. The salmon was all cooked 
and just being sliced, when a self-appointed messenger burst in 
with the misinformation that the British were marching from 
Lexington to Woburn. The whole party, including a now under- 
standably silent Adams, whose agile mind must already have been 
planning the uses of the yet unfinished day's events, moved on to a 
third refuge in Billerica. 

Back in Lexington there was the pressing business of getting aid 
to the wounded and the sad business of cleaning up after death 
had come. From a slight hill beyond the swampy ground north of 
the Common, the men, silent at first and perhaps a little dazed, 
came drifting back to the Common they had fled a few minutes 
earlier. Doors of houses opened, and the women came out, followed 
by puzzled children, to help the wounded, to find their husbands, 
to take the necessary census of the dead. Dr. Fiske and his son, Dr. 
Joseph, Junior, came and bandaged wounds. Eight men in all 
seven of Captain Parker's company and the unfortunate chance 
captive from Wobum, lay dead, most of them shot in the back as 
they were dispersing. Nine men were wounded. Of the eight 
father-and-son combinations who stood together half an hour 
earlier, five were broken by death two fathers and three sons 
killed. Of all the men who had responded to William Diamond's 
drum call to arms, nearly a third were casualties. 

Then it dawned on all the living that sooner or later the British 
would have to come back through Lexington. Children were 
evacuated from all the houses lining the main route from Concord 
to Boston through the town. Family silver and the communion 



service from the meetinghouse were buried or hidden. Late arriving 
minutemen from the outlying areas began to appear on the Com- 
mon. A solitary British soldier came walking by the meetinghouse. 
A minuteman from Wobum went up to him, demanded his 
surrender, and disarmed him. One by one, five other British 
soldiers stragglers, willing prisoners, looters were picked up, 
disarmed, and sent off to Wobum for safekeeping. 

When the British marched off, of course, they left behind them 
the unhappy sequela of wars from the beginning all the personal 
and human debris of sudden bereavement and new uncertainties. 

In Jonas Clarke's house, which except for the Common itself 
was the most active place in Lexington that day, there was 
among the twelve children one wondering little girl of twelve. 
Sixty-six years later, it was all still very real to her everything 
that did not get into the orations and the textbooks. In 1841, full 
of memories, and the last of the Hancocks and Clarkes to live in 
the old house, Elizabeth Clarke sent a remarkable portrait of the 
day, a primitive in words, to her niece: 

Lexington, April igth, 1841 
My dear niece Lucy Allen: 

Miss Colton offers to take a line to you, and, as your little girl 
did not stay or come to this house only to give us your letter which, 
with the sincerest joy we read and have lived on the hope you gave 
us that you would come up to this old House and look on us old 
Beings, a house and Happy, Happy home and many worthy men 
and women have been the inhabitants and oh! Lucy, how many 
descendants can I count from the venerable Hancock down to this 
day which is sixty-six years since the war began on the Common 
which I now can see from this window as here I sit writing, and 
can see, in my mind, just as plain, all the British troops marching 
off the Common to Concord, and the whole scene, how Aunt 
Hancock and Miss Dolly Quinsy, with their cloaks and bonnets on, 
Aunt crying and wringing her hands and helping Mother Dress 



the children, Dolly going round with Father, to hide Money, 
watches and anything down in the potatoes and up garrett, and 
then Grandfather Clarke sent down men with carts, took your 
Mother and all the children but Jonas and me and Sally a Babe 
six months old. Father sent Jonas down to Grandfather Cook's to 
see who was killed and what their condition was and, in the after- 
noon, Father, Mother with me and the Baby went to the Meeting 
House, there was the eight men that was killed, seven of them my 
Father's parishioners, one from Wo burn, all in Boxes made of four 
large Boards Nailed up and, after Pa had prayed, they were put 
into two horse carts and took into the grave yard where your 
Grandfather and some of the Neighbors had made a large trench, 
as near the Woods as possible and there we followed the bodies of 
those first slain, Father, Mother, I and the Baby, there I stood and 
there I saw them let down into the ground, it was a little rainey but 
we waited to see them Covered up with the Clods and then for fear 
the British should find them, my Father thought some of the men 
had best Cut some pine or oak bows and spread them on their place 
of burial so that it looked like a heap of Brush . . . 

The extraordinary circumstance that I should be the only one of 
this Family who should witness the first Burial of the first slain of 
the war between Great Britain and America and Be not only 
continued in Life but on the same spot of Earth and in the same 
house where the first Patriots in the Country was at that period., 
Hancock and Adams and Father who was known 03 a superior 
Wlgg, superior minister, a Highly respectable Man, uncommon in 
his intellectual faculties and, above all, a Christian, who sewed his 
Lord and Master,, was faith-full to his People, gave his strength to 
labour for his Family, his hours of Rest to his pen so that his 
People's soulls should not be neglected, but Lucy, I shall tire you 
with my relations , . . in this my long life . . . 

/ think of so many things that I Jumble them up in such bad 
writing that you will have hard work to read, my hands tremble 



and my Eyes are very sore lately, do pray read with patience 
perhaps my Last Letter for I am full of years. . . . 

Your Aged Aunt Eliza 28 

Later on the morning of April nineteenth. Captain Parker re- 
assembled his Lexington minutemen, to inarch toward Concord. 
Some of the wounded, now bandaged, formed in awkward but 
determined lines. Among them was Jedediah Munroe, the old 
man who had fallen on the Common before he could shoot and 
who had brought along the old Scotch claymore as an extra 
weapon. William Diamond beat his drum again. The little com- 
pany marched off toward Concord, the beat of the drum and the 
thin music of the fife echoing briefly after them. And this was 
perhaps Lexington's saddest and most triumphant moment of the 
whole day the sun now high in the sky, the smell of British gun- 
powder still in the air, their dead brothers lying on the Common 
behind, and the company of minutemen, knowing now what they 
faced, marching off to meet the enemy again. 


"The thunderbolt falls on an inch of ground, 
but the light of it Jills the horizon. . . ." 


Two eighteenth century villages, five miles apart, some eleven 
and sixteen miles from Boston, each with its meetinghouse, its neat 
and handsome clapboard houses, its pastures and farms and quiet 
ways yet Lexington and Concord had stamped on them wholly 
different personalities. 

Concord was the larger of the two with its fifteen hundred 
souls, twice the size of Lexington in population and richer. It was 
also somewhat freer in disposition, a little farther removed in 
temperament from the homogeneity and unrelieved orthodoxy 
that characterized Lexington, a little more sophisticated in a way, 
a community of lighter mood, more diverse opinion, more in- 
habitants who spoke their own minds and came to their own 
conclusions. There were Tories in Concord, too, although they 
were a very small and untolerated minority. One of them, Daniel 
Bliss, a lawyer, entertained Captain Brown and Ensign de 
Bemiere when they went to Concord in March to report to Gage on 



the roads. Mr. Bliss was forced by his neighbors to leave town with 
the soldiers; he never returned, and his estate was confiscated. 
Concord's other Tories refrained from overt acts, but they let their 
opinions be known. The town lacked the unanimity of Lexington. 

For, where Lexington had felt the unifying and also the 
restraining effect of two powerful personalities, old Bishop Han- 
cock and his successor Jonas Clarke (their consecutive ministries 
in the village covered a hundred and four years) , Concord had a 
seething ecclesiastical history in a day when the ecclesiastical life 
of a community was almost its whole life and most certainly its 
political, social, and cultural life. The effervescent people of 
Concord had thrown out some of their ministers, split into 
separate parishes, hauled their clergy up on charges, feuded over 
Whitefield's "Great Awakening" revival movement, and generally 
behaved as if they were running, or attempting to run, the parish 
instead of letting the parish run them. Indeed, as far back as the 
16405, during the ascendancy of the Puritan theocracy, when such 
things were extraordinarily rare, one Concord citizen, of positive 
views, Ambrose Martin, arose and publicly declared that in his 
judgment the church covenant was "a stinking carrion and a 
human invention." 2 Martin was fined 10, a huge sum then, for 
expressing his opinion of the basic mystique of the Puritan state. 
Like most people of the time, he did not have any such amount of 
cash; so the authorities seized some of his property and sold it for 
20, Martin refused to accept payment of the surplus, to which 
he was entitled, and even when he hit upon bad times he held out 
for the whole amount. It is significant of the spirit of Concord ( and 
it would have been inconceivable in Lexington) that fifteen of his 
townsmen, including the two clergymen of the town, petitioned 
the dour Puritan Governor John Endicott to give Martin the whole 
20. Endicott said that Martin's distress was due entirely to his 
own obstinacy and that he could get the surplus on the sale of his 
property, and not a penny more, whenever he saw fit to call for it. 

In the following century, old Bishop Hancock spent a consider- 



able part of his time going from Lexington to Concord to preside 
over emergency sessions of church councils that were convened to 
arbitrate some rebellion in the Concord church, which finally split 
into two parishes. Concord's controversies resulted in the decline 
of the clergy as an influence in town, affairs, and Jonas Clarke's 
contemporary, the Reverend William Emerson, did riot hold a 
position of any comparable authority in the town at all. 

The differences of character in the towns of Lexington and 
Concord were clearly reflected in the happenings of April nine- 
teenth, 1 775. The outward context of events was, of course, wholly 
different, too. The sun was fully up, and so was the entire popula- 
tion, when the British started moving toward Concord. There was 
no secrecy, no stealth, no quiet, no wild dashing around of riders. 
The morning was bright and clear. The British columns of scarlet 
and white, its drums beating and fif es whistling,, were moving, full 
of confidence, into the eastern part of the town. The provincials 
had turned out to be hopelessly irresolute or astonishingly bad 
marksmen or numerically insignificant. The British troops were 
now nearing their real objective, could readily get it over with, and 
get back to their barracks for a good night's sleep. 

In Concord, however, events had been moving since one o'clock 
that morning, when young Dr. Prescott escaped the British patrol 
and warned the Concord militia, having paused on the way to 
alarm the Lincoln minutemen, too. "This morning between one 
and two o'clock we were alarmed by the ringing of the bell," wrote 
William Emerson, the Concord pastor. Unlike Clarke, however, 
Emerson's sole function was to grab his musket and run to the 
rendezvous at Wright's Tavern. Emerson's job was that of a 
member of the Alarm List and nothing more; his pride was in 
being the first to arrive, although he was by no means the nearest 
to Wright's Tavern. After the militia had assembled, they arranged 
for a signal to reassemble on the approach of the British, sent 
messengers to alert other communities, and dispersed to help 
the other townspeople hide as much of the remaining stores as they 



could before the British got there. Concord had two companies of 
minutemen, and another from neighboring Lincoln, to receive 
the British. 

As the morning neared daybreak, a scout was sent to Lexington 
and returned shortly to report that there was firing on Lexington 
Common; but he told Major John Buttrick, then commanding the 
minutemen, that he did not wait to see whether bullets were being 
fired or just gunpowder. On this intelligence, the minutemen re- 
assembled and held a council of war all with complete calm and 
no impulsiveness at all. There were about two hundred and fifty 
of them, all armed. Amos Barrett said, after conferring, that "we 
thought we would go and meet the British." 3 The three companies 
fell in line, and they marched down the road toward Lexington, 
their drums beating and fifes playing, "to meet the British." 

The British were, of course, marching from Lexington toward 
them seven hundred regulars marching in one direction and two 
hundred and fifty provincial militia in the other on the narrow 
Lexington-Concord road. "We marched down toward Lexington 
about a mile or a mile and a half, and we saw them coming. We 
halted and stayed until they got within about a hundred rods," 
Barrett reported. Then Major Buttrick's force executed a startling 
movement for one of two opposing forces that had just met. "We 
were ordered to the about face and marched before them [the 
British] with our drums and fifes going and also the British. We 
had grand music." 4 Amos Barrett did well to note the novelty and 
splendor of this scene. After seven o'clock in the morning now, 
here along a narrow country road came a variously garbed group 
of two hundred and fifty countrymen, marching along with 
muskets and their fifes and drums. One hundred rods behind them 
marched the seven hundred British soldiers, their fifes and drums 
adding to the grand music. 

As the British entered Concord, they found themselves on less 
felicitous terrain than they had at Lexington. Rising steeply on 
their right was a long ridge of varying height but of sufficient steep- 



ness to command the road all the way into the center of Concord. 
Along this ridge newly arrived minutemen were already peering 
down at the British forces and could have fired as they pleased, 
without any danger of return fire. Lieutenant Colonel Smith sent 
his light infantry off the roadway and up onto the ridge; and the 
minutemen who had been there hurried back along the ridge to the 
center of Concord. The grenadiers continued to march along the 
roadway. Thus the British force arrived in the center of Concord 
at about eight o'clock in the morning, finally ready to carry out 
the object of the mission that got them up from their bunks at nine 
o'clock the night before. Under the procrastinating command of 
Colonel Smith, they had taken eleven hours to come seventeen 
miles, and his troops had so conducted themselves that the whole 
point of the mission was now irrelevant anyhow. All that was 
left for the hapless colonel that day was so to manage what was 
left of it as to convert failure to disaster. This he achieved. For, 
unencumbered by policy decisions or, in any case, by the presence 
of those who could make them, Colonel James Barrett, the com- 
manding officer of the Concord militia. Major John Buttrick, 
his second in command, and their fellow officers made their 
decisions on purely military grounds. 

To begin with, they kept their militia out of easy reach of the 
British and always in positions where they themselves had the 
advantage of observation and striking power. Concord was as 
much a town of hills as Lexington for the most part was of plains. 
Before the advancing British, the minutemen moved from one 
ridge to another, while all the time their number was being 
swollen by new companies from nearby towns. When the com- 
panies of minutemen who had made up the strange procession 
with the British with all the music got back to Concord center, 
they found the Alarm Company the men too old for the duty 
of minutemen on a hill across from the meetinghouse. The 
combined provincial forces then withdrew from this ridge, over- 
looking the little group of public buildings hi the heart of the 



town, to a second ridge, from which they could both look down 
on the town and see out across some meadows to William 
Emerson's manse, the Concord River, and the North Bridge across 
it that led to Colonel Barrett's farm, where some of the munitions 
were hidden. From this height, they watched the light infantry 
come down from the ridge that they themselves had just left, 
and the taller, heavier-armed grenadiers form at ease along the 
roads converging in the town. Smith and Pitcaim mounted the 
first ridge and, from the town burial ground, surveyed the country- 
side, Smith studying the map that Gage had given him and 
Pitcaim looking through a glass to determine the distribution of 
the provincial militia that might still be scattered around the town. 

Meanwhile, the militia was holding a council of war on their 
ridge. Emerson, the young pastor, of a somewhat evangelical 
sort compared to the rationalist, Clarke, was all for "making 
a stand, notwithstanding the superiority of their number." "Let 
us stand our ground/ 3 he said. "If we die, let us die here." But 
this wasn't Lexington, and Emerson wasn't Clarke. He got dis- 
agreement from the more venturesome ("Let us go and meet 
them") and from the more prudent ("No, it will not do for us 
to begin the war" ) . Emerson himself reported that the prudent 
won: ". . . but others more prudent thought best to retreat till 
our strength should be equal to the enemy's by recruits from 
neighboring towns that were continuingly coming in to our 
assistance. Accordingly, we retreated over the [North] bridge." 5 
This was to be the most important decision of the day by the 
provincial militia at Concord. It put them on the west or far 
side of the river, "on a hill not far from the bridge where we could 
see and hear what was going on." 6 It also* put them where they 
would not be separated from the minutemen that now started 
streaming in from towns to the west of Concord until there were 
some four hundred there. 

Lieutenant Colonel Smith now divided his forces. He kept the 
grenadiers in the town on the east side of the Concord River, and 



they were deployed all around, searching for the stores and de- 
stroying any that they came upon. Of his ten companies of light 
infantry, he sent one to guard the South Bridge over the Concord 
Elver to the southwest of the town, presumably to stop any militia 
from crossing it and to search for any stores that might be there. 
But the North Bridge was the important one, for Smith knew that 
considerable parts of the provincial stores were concealed on 
Colonel Barrett's farm beyond it. So he dispatched seven of his 
light infantry companies to the North Bridge, over which the 
militia had just withdrawn. 

With all the militia across the North Bridge the grenadiers had 
the town to themselves, and Lieutenant Colonel Smith, who should 
have been in command at the key and vulnerable position at the 
bridge (the only possible place where there could be contact with 
the provincial militia), stayed with the grenadiers, directing then- 
operation. He kept Pitcairn, his second in command, with him, 
too, having dispatched the infantry companies to the bridge under 
the command only of one of their captains. 

The search and destruction of the stores in the town went along 
in a peaceable way. Having been lectured by their officers on the 
conduct of the light infantry at Lexington, the huge grenadiers 
went about their business almost gently and for their pains missed 
as much contraband as they found. Forbidden to terrify the in- 
habitants, mostly women and old men left in the town, they 
went along almost eagerly with the most specious diversionary 
tactics of the inhabitants. 

Timothy Wheeler, whose ancestors were among the original 
settlers of Concord, hit upon a method of deceiving the grenadiers 
by telling the truth. He had stored in his barn a large supply of 
provincial flour for the use of the militia; near it he carefully 
stacked a few bags of his own flour. With the grenadiers he adopted 
a tone of patient forebearance as if they were particularly back- 
ward schoolboys. He put his hand on the bag of his own flour 
and said, "This is my flour . . . This is the flour of wheat; this is 


the flour of corn; this is the flour of rye. This is my flour; this is 
my wheat; this is my rye; this is mine. 55 And every bag that he 
touched was literally his own. The grenadier left, assuring Wheeler 
that "we do not injure private property. 337 

At the malt house of Ebenezer Hubbard, where more flour 
was stored, they rolled the barrels out on the roadway, smashed 
them apart, and scattered the flour over the ground. This, of 
course, was rather picayune work to the heaviest chargers of the 
King's infantry, and they sought to speed the trifling job up. 
They threw most of the other casks of flour, the chief provision of 
armies, into the mill pond. All of it was later retrieved by the 
provincials, when it was discovered that the flour on the outer 
edges of the casks had swollen and, caulking the seams, had sealed 
the remainder up tight. The grenadiers were similarly impatient 
with the confiscated musket balls, which General Gage, with a 
curious attention to details, had suggested the soldiers put into 
their pockets and scatter on their way home. The grenadiers 
dumped hundreds of them into ponds, and the provincials just 
hauled them out again the next day. 

At the tavern of Ephraim Jones there was some exceptional 
activity. In addition to being an innkeeper, Ephraim Jones, in an 
appropriate merger of related professions, was also the jailkeeper. 
Jones depended erroneously on force rather than ingenuity in han- 
dling the soldiers. There were three twenty-four pounders con- 
cealed in his jailyard. In his inn, which was conveniently adjacent, 
was the chest of the Treasurer of the Provincial Congress, Henry 
Gardner, who had seen fit to leave it in the room he had occupied 
during the lately adjourned session. Jones bolted all the doors of 
inn and jail and refused to let the grenadiers into either establish- 
ment This was a delicate situation for the grenadiers, who were 
duty-bound to be gentle and conciliatory. They sent for Major 
Pitcaim to handle the deadlock. He ordered a door broken 
down and went to the jailyard. There Jones stubbornly re- 
fused to reveal where the cannon were buried. Since neither 



the jail premises nor the cannon were private property, Pitcairn 
brandished his pistol, and Jones led him to the cannon. 
But the inn was private property, and the grenadiers re- 
spected the distinction. They got to Gardner's room and 
found a young woman blocking the door. She insisted that 
it was her room, that the chest was hers, and told them to go 
away. They left. Jones was still being held at bayonet point in 
the jailyard, but Pitcairn was satisfied to knock off the trunnions 
of the cannon and destroy their carriages and then released Jones, 
directing him to shift to the role of innkeeper and prepare the 
major's breakfast Jones served the breakfast, rendered an exact 
bill, and was paid by the major. It was the only show of violence 
among those searching for stores in the town. 

The British made a point of paying for everything demanded 
for their personal convenience, and many a good descendant of 
the Puritans had a difficult choice between indignantly and 
patriotically scorning money and prudently accepting it with the 
solid respect of good New England orthodoxy for the earth's 
manna. Most of them resolved the dilemma by taking the money 
after comments to the effect that it was probably contaminated. 
Colonel Barrett's wife, who had the light infantry on her hands 
for an hour or more, served them food and drink on their demand. 
At first she refused payment with the remark that "we are com- 
manded to feed our enemies." But they pressed the money on her, 
tossing it into her lap, "This is the price of blood," she said ruefully, 
and put the money in her pocket. 8 At Amos Wood's home the 
British even offered to pay the ladies there for the inconvenience 
caused them in searching the place, giving them each a guinea. The 
women accepted the money; and told the officer that there was 
only one room unavailable for the search because it was occupied 
by an indisposed woman. The officer sternly forbade his men to go 
near it. The room, of course, held the only military stores in the 
whole Wood house. 

In general, as the morning wore calmly on, the soldiers showed 



more interest in food than in military supplies. If Barker was right 
in his observation that, after standing around the Cambridge 
flatlands for two hours while their rations were being brought to 
them, the soldiers threw them away with characteristic contempt 
for army food, they were really hungry by now. They had 
marched all day, and they had a day's march ahead of them. 
But as professional soldiers, they also knew that better food than 
army salt pork could be had from foraging. In Concord they ate 
well, getting heavy breakfasts of meat, milk, and potatoes from 
their unwilling hosts. Once in a while, however, they got stem 
lectures from the women or from old men on their behavior and 
on the general colonial policy of the British Parliament. At the 
gun shop of Samuel Barrett they found the ancient father of the 
proprietor, Deacon Thomas Barrett, who took the occasion to 
reprimand them seriously for the whole drift of events since the 
Stamp Act. The soldiers after a while said teasingly they might 
have to kill him for such rebellious sentiments, but the old deacon 
won them over by pointing out that he was so old that if they 
waited a little while they would be saved the trouble. 

So far as the usefulness of the raid to the military security of 
the King's troops in Boston went, it was, of course, a fiasco. The 
patriots, in the three days following Revere's Sunday alert of 
Adams and Hancock at Lexington, had effectively removed to 
neighboring towns much of the material, and what was left that 
the British could find and destroy could not possibly determine 
the outcome of the occupation of Boston. Nevertheless, the grena- 
diers in the town did what they could. They destroyed the cannon 
they found, threw musket and cannon balls in ponds and wells, 
chopped down the liberty pole, hacked up harness, burned gun 
carriages, entrenchment tools, and the wooden trenchants and 
spoons acquired for Samuel Adams' provincial army when he got 
it. If they had not concluded to burn rather than just to smash the 
wooden carriages and utensils, they might have departed in peace 
for Boston, well fed and still without the loss or serious injury of a 



single man. After the horror of Lexington Common, things in 
Concord were not going badly for Lieutenant Colonel Smith, 

But at North Bridge, where Smith had sent the seven companies 
of light infantry to hold the minutemen on the far side of the 
river, tension was rapidly developing. From their vantage point, 
on the hill beyond the bridge, the provincial militia watched the 
British infantry as Captain Parsons of the Tenth Regiment, in 
command of the detachment, deployed his men. 


Captain Parsons had thrust upon him decisions that his limited 
experience had not equipped him to make. When he first marched 
down to North Bridge, he had had six companies under his 
command; shortly after he arrived at the bridge, a seventh com- 
pany, the Welch Fusiliers, joined his force. Since a British company 
of the time had twenty-eight men, Parsons had altogether one 
hundred and ninety-six men. Before him on the hill two hundred 
yards away was the whole strength of the provincial militia that 
had arrived some four hundred, including the minutemen who 
had marched so gallantly down the Lexington road earlier that 
morning "to meet the British/' only to execute the remarkable 
about-face and serve as the escort of the British right into Concord, 

Outnumbered two to one at the bridge, Parsons was faced with 
an even more serious dilemma. He had two assignments from 
Lieutenant Colonel Smith. One was to secure the bridge, and 
the other was to go on to search Colonel Barrett's farm, two miles 
beyond the bridge, the alleged chief depository of provincial arms 
and stores. He had to keep enough of his troops at the bridge to 
hold it. On the other hand, he had to send enough men to Barrett's 
to fight off the militia if it followed them or to cope with any pro- 
vincial forces that they might encounter on the way to Barrett's. 
Parsons probably thought he was avoiding a difficult decision by 
splitting his forces nearly evenly. First, he marched all seven com- 



panics across the bridge. One of these he left at the western end of 
the bridge, so that they stood with their backs to it as they faced the 
colonial militia on the nearby hill twenty-eight men, their backs 
to a river, facing four hundred. Two more companies, fifty-six men, 
Parsons placed some distance apart on some low hills along the 
road to Barrett's and about a quarter of a mile from the bridge. 
He turned all three of these companies over to the command of 
Captain Walter Laurie of the Forty-third Regiment, and he 
marched away to Colonel Barrett's farm with the other four to 
seize and destroy the munitions. 

Watching all this, the minutemen made no move to interfere 
with the British. They just watched and waited, two hundred 
yards from the British company guarding the bridge and perhaps 
four hundred from the two British companies stationed on the 
low hills down the road to Barrett's. One minuteman decided to 
negotiate. "J ames Nichols, of Lincoln, who was an Englishman 
and a droll fellow and a fine singer, said, 'If any of you wiU hold 
my gun, I will go down and talk to them.' Some of them held his 
gun, and he went down alone to the British soldiers at the bridge 
and talked to them some time. Then he came back and took his 
gun and said he was going home. . . ." 9 

The constantly complaining Lieutenant Barker, of the King's 
Own Regiment, at the bridge, did not like the situation at all. 
"During this time," he wrote, "the people were gathering together 
in great numbers and, taking advantage of our scattered dis- 
position, seemed as if they were going to cut off the communi- 
cations with the bridge. . . ." 10 

Then on the hill where the four hundred armed provincials 
minutemen supplemented by other militia, including such vener- 
able men as eighty-year-old Josiah Haynes of Sudbury looked 
down on the three companies of light infantry guarding the bridge, 
the smoke from the bonfires that Smith's grenadiers had lighted 
in the town of Concord was noticed. The provincials held another 
war conference: apparently the British were setting fire to the 



town, and many of these men had left their families back at 
their houses. Joseph Hosmer, lieutenant of one of the Concord 
minutemen companies, acting as adjutant of all the forces, put a 
question to the group of officers, town officials, armed farmers, 
and tradesmen around him: "Will you let them bum the town 
down? 3511 The answer was a concerted "No, 53 and the group 
agreed that they would march back over the bridge to the town 
and put a stop to the burning. Colonel Barrett told the men to 
load their guns, gave them "strict orders not to fire till they [the 
British soldiers guarding the bridge] fired first, then to fire as fast 
as we could. 3312 

The four hundred provincial militia started moving down from 
their position toward Captain Laurie's single company of thirty- 
five men at the bridge. The junior officers of both this company 
and the two somewhat ahead of the bridge started worried con- 
ferences on what they should do next. With no one really effectively 
in command they acted on their own to correct the extraordinary 
jeopardy in which Parsons had left them. 

Ensign Lister of the Tenth Regiment's company, one of the two 
stationed by Parsons on the hills a quarter of a mile west of the 
bridge, said, "We had not been long in this situation when we saw 
a large body of men drawn up with the greatest regularity and ap- 
proached us seemingly with an intent to attack, when Lieutenant 
Kelly, who then commanded our company, with myself thought 
it most proper to retire from our situation and join the Fourth's 
company [the second of the two companies left by Parsons on the 
low hills across the river], which we did. They still approached and 
in that [such] force that it was thought proper by the officers ex- 
cept myself to join the Forty-third's company at Concord Bridge 
commanded by Captain Laurie." Lister objected to the with- 
drawing back to the company at the bridge, because of the terrain 
between them and the bridge: they would have to descend, under 
the provincials' muskets, "a steepish hill" where they could be fired 
upon but could not fire back. "However, I was over-ruled." 1 * 



Lieutenant Sutherland, the venturesome volunteer, meanwhile 
had left the bridge "exceedingly vexed 33 that Captain Parsons had 
gone along to Barrett's without him and started out to catch up 
with him. But he was too late. The provincials were coming down 
the hill and since "it struck me it would be disgraceful to be taken 
by such rascals/ 3 he raced back to the bridge, where he joined 
Captain Laurie. 14 

The three companies were now together at the bridge as the 
militia came toward them, but they were still in the indefensible 
position of being on the far side of the bridge with the river at 
their back and only a narrow footbridge over which to withdraw. 
The provincials were now within three hundred yards. Lieutenant 
Sutherland, who seemed to be one of those zealous and capable 
officers whom everyone trusted, was consulted by Captain Laurie, 
who "was kind enough to ask me, Was it not better to acquaint 
Colonel Smith of this. I told him by all means, as their disposition 
appeared to be very regular and determined, on which he sent 
Lieutenant Robertson to Colonel Smith; who returned to us in 
a very little time with Captain Lumm, who told us Colonel Smith 
would send us a re-inforcement immediately. Captain Lumm very 
obligingly galloped back as hard as he could to hasten the reinforce- 
ment 3315 

Now the provincial militia were almost upon them, and Laurie 
at last recognized the vulnerability of his position and recrossed 
the bridge, barely having time to get his hundred men across. They 
were now in the right position to stop the approaching provincials 
from crossing, but they were far too late to form properly for the 
job. As for the reinforcements, Colonel Smith was, of course, 
late in getting them there. With complete disregard for Captain 
Parsons and the four companies who had gone to Barrett's, Ensign 
Lister proposed tearing up the planks of the bridge, and Lieutenant 
Sutherland and some others actually did get a few torn loose; but 
the approach of the militia stopped them. If they had succeeded, 



of course. Parsons would have been isolated on the far side of the 

While all the other officers of the three companies were attempt- 
ing to improve their prospects, the disapproving Lieutenant 
Barker of the King's Own apparently took the view that the whole 
mess was no worse than might be expected. "Captain Laurie, who 
commanded then these companies, sent to Colonel Smith, begging 
he would send more troops to his assistance and informing him of 
his situation; the Colonel ordered two or three companies but put 
himself at their head, by which means [he] stopped them from 
being [in] time enough, for being a very fat heavy man he would 
not have reached the bridge in half an hour, though it was not 
half a mile to it; in the meantime, the rebels marched into the 
road and were coming down upon us, when Captain Laurie made 
Ms men retire to this side of the bridge (which, by the bye, he 
ought to have done at first, and then he would have had time to 
make a good disposition, but at this time, he had not, for the 
rebels got so near him that his people were obliged to form the best 
way they could) ," 16 The fact that Barker was right made him no 
more helpful at the time, when Laurie needed all the help that he 
could get. 

The columns marching down toward the disturbed company 
officers was the first American aimy under a unified commander 
ever to take the field. The variegated brigade was made up of six 
companies of minutemen two from Concord and one each from 
the adjacent towns of Bedford, Lincoln, Acton, and Carlisle, the 
Concord militia made up of older men and others not in the 
minutemen companies, and individual minutemen from neigh- 
boring Westford, Chelmsf ord, and Littleton. They marched down 
to the bridge in a long line in ranks of two, the old men in the rear 
and the Acton company with its energetic young captain, Isaac 
Davis, at the head. With him was Major John Buttrick of the 
Concord company. In the rear, still on a rise where he could see the 
whole column, was Colonel Barrett, mounted, and repeating his 



order not to begin the firing. As this column neared the bridge, 
Buttrick shouted to the withdrawing British to stop tearing up the 
planks. They did stop, not in obedience to Buttrick, but because 
of the proximity of his force. 

Captain Laurie, across the river, was trying to get his com- 
panies in a proper defensive position. As it was, the hundred men 
were all massed at the east end of the bridge, making an excellent 
and compact target and unable to raise their muskets to fire 
without bayoneting their own comrades. Laurie ordered the troops 
of two companies to align themselves in columns for street firing, 
an infantry innovation at the time, in which the soldiers seemed 
poorly drilled and with which even the critical Lieutenant Barker 
seemed wholly unfamiliar. The technique required the company to 
face the enemy in ranks of four or more and to the depth of eight 
or less ranks. After the first rank fired, it split and wheeled around 
to the rear, where it would prime and reload its muskets while the 
second and following ranks fired. In a tactical retreat the rank, 
after it fired, just continued marching to the rear, stopping only 
when it was its turn to fire again. This was what Laurie had in 
mind, although he failed to realize that the country road with an 
open meadow on each side was not a city street and offered neither 
reason nor advantage to street fighting. In fact, it offered distinct 
hazards, because in the absence of protective buildings character- 
istic of city streets, any enemy could easily flank and surround the 
street firing squads. Lister apparently thought of this, for he 
ordered the third company to extend their line along the river 
bank. Except for the first few squads who stood ready at the edge 
of the bridge for the street firing, however, nobody seemed to pay 
much attention to Captain Laurie's orders. The ubiquitous and 
always helpful Lieutenant Sutherland, seeing Laurie's plight, 
jumped over a stone wall into a meadow belonging to Emerson's 
house and shouted to the men of the third company to follow him. 
No better disciplined than they had been on Lexington Common, 
none of them did except three men. Then the shooting began 



and as at Lexington no one knew who started it, although 
Captain Laurie, who gave no order to fire, said that "I imagine 
myself that a man of my company (afterwards killed) did first fire 
Ms piece." 17 Sutherland, who was hit in the shoulder, said the 
provincials did, and Ensign Lister also implied that the provincials 
did. But the probability is that three or four of the British troops, 
on their own initiative, fired first, and their shots fell into the river. 

At this time Captain Davis and his companions of the Acton 
company were only fifty or sixty yards from the British. Then the 
British fired a volley. "God damn it, they are firing ball !" Captain 
Timothy Brown of Concord swore bitterly; and Amos Barrett, who 
enjoyed the "grand music' 3 so much, wrote, with his customary 
appreciation of the phonic details of warfare, "The balls whistled 
well. We were then all ordered to fire that could fire and not kill 
our own men. 3 ' 18 

On the first British volley the intrepid Captain Davis and one 
of his men of the Acton Company were killed and the young Acton 
fifer wounded. Major Buttrick immediately gave the provincial 
order to fire, in something less than clipped military terms : "Fire, 
fellow-soldiers, for God's sake, fire!" 19 Most of the provincials 
fired, letting loose a rain of bullets on the British troops, two of 
whom were killed and several wounded. After scattered return 
fire the British turned and ran toward Concord, "in spite of all 
that could be done to prevent them," according to Captain Laurie, 
who would have been thoroughly justified in giving up any am- 
bition for an army career. 

The retreating light infantrymen were halfway from the bridge 
to the center of Concord when they encountered fat Lieutenant 
Colonel Smith, with a company of grenadiers, coining to their 
assistance. He was, as at Boston Common for the embarkation, at 
Cambridge for the march, at Lexington for the massacre, so late 
in getting there that irreparable damage to the expedition was 
already done. He marched his grenadiers back to Concord with 



the unhappy light infantry and then loitered about Concord for 
two hours, while minutemen from all over Middlesex county 
swarmed to Concord to harass his eventual retreat. He did nothing 
at all about the three companies, under Captain Parsons, who were 
still across the river at Barrett's farm. For all he knew or apparently 
cared, the provincials could have destroyed the bridge and isolated 
Parsons' companies deep in enemy territory, or they could simply 
be waiting in ambush to destroy Parsons' men as they returned 
from Barrett's to cross the bridge. The British dead were left at 
the bridge, and some of the wounded were also left behind to get 
back to the village as best they could. "When I got over," Amos 
Barrett wrote, "there were two dead, and another almost dead. 
There were eight or ten that were wounded and a running and a 
hobbling about, looking back to see if we were after them." 20 

The provincials were not after them or any other British at the 
time. After routing the British at the bridge, some of them re- 
crossed the bridge, picked up their dead and wounded, and went 
to a nearby farm. Others stayed on the town side of the river but 
instead of following the retreating British into town went up a 
hill and, deploying themselves behind a stone wall, kept watch over 
the road. The bridge, about which all the fighting had occurred, 
was almost deserted. A wounded British soldier tried to crawl out 
of the roadway to the grass beside it, when a country boy came 
along and, with a hatchet, split the fallen man's head open. "The 
poor object lived an hour or two before he expired," William 
Emerson wrote a fellow cleric. 21 When Parsons with his three 
companies, unmolested by the victorious provincials and aban- 
doned by the British commander, came back over the bridge, they 
were startled by the sight of the bloodily hacked head of the 
soldier. As soon as they got to the village, a rumor started spreading 
all through the British forces that the provincials were scalping 
their captives a rumor that was to have a heavy bearing on the 
long and slaughterous afternoon that still stretched out ahead. 

1 66 



After successfully forcing the bridge, after sending three com- 
panies of British light infantry and one of grenadiers in full retreat, 
and after isolating three other companies on the far side of the river, 
the provincials did nothing to press their advantage. Their purpose 
in forcing the bridge, of course, was to get to the town and prevent 
its burning. But by now the smoke had died down and been 
revealed for what it was, the burning of some of the confiscated 
stores. Thoughts of the other ten grenadier companies still in the 
village may have restrained the provincials from pressing the 
retreat of the light infantry farther. Fear of reprisal may have 
stopped them from destroying the isolated companies of Parsons 
while the main force was still in town. Whatever their reasoning, 
the provincials did nothing, except to find a meal somewhere, 
during the two-hour interval between the end of the fight at the 
bridge and the British departure from Concord. Captain Parsons, 
unaware of the fight at the bridge and innocent of his perilous 
situation from the beginning, had stopped his companies at a 
tavern for drinks. As he returned leisurely over the bridge, he was 
astonished to see some planks loose and even more astonished to 
see the dead soldiers. 

Lieutenant Colonel Smith seemed unable to make up his 
mind what to do and formed his troops into line, dismissed them, 
reformed them, marched them a few yards in one direction and 
then in another. Possibly he wanted to remind the provincials 
that his forces were still there, still a threat, while he hoped that 
the reinforcements that he had asked from Gage, some ten hours 
earlier, would get to him before he had to begin the hazardous 
seventeen-mile march back to Boston in what was obviously now a 
thoroughly aroused and belligerent countryside. CharacteristicaEy, 
however, he simply delayed while the steady arrival of more 
minutemen from remoter towns made his eventual march more 
and more dangerous. 


Colonel Barrett of the provincials, meanwhile, no longer had a 
unified command. With the independence and casual attitudes 
that were to characterize the colonial militia even later during 
Washington's leadership, the minutemen all made their own deci- 
sions about what to do next, and they wandered off in all direc- 
tions not by any means abandoning the day's fighting but ob- 
viously intending to resume as occasion arose later. There is no 
question that their company commanders would have responded 
to any call for a consultation by Barrett, but there was none. They 
simply kept watchful eyes on the British from a distance and deter- 
mined that they would see that there was no further destruction 
of life and property in Concord. In the meantime, as they waited 
for the British to move, time was on their side: their numbers 
would inevitably be increased, and they could have the advantage 
of a running fight. 

1 68 



The country was an amazing strong one., 
full of hills, woods, stone walls. . . ." 


At noon on April nineteenth Captain John Parker was marching 
his company of minutemen down the Concord road. Jonathan 
Harrington (whose namesake and cousin had crawled dying that 
morning to his own doorstep) played "The White Cockade" on 
his fife, and William Diamond beat his drum. Old Jedediah 
Munroe, who had been wounded in the morning, marched along 
with the rest, carrying his musket and the sword of his Scotch 
forebears. They were going to meet the British. Although their 
form, if not their appearance, was that of a military unit, they 
marched and were to fight as individual men. Blood had been 
spilled on Lexington Common, and a third of their relatives, 
friends, and neighbors in the company were dead or wounded. 
Over one per cent of their Ettle population were killed, shot down 
by hysterical, undisciplined soldiers. One of every twenty-three 
of the adult males was dead and of the heads of families one out 
of every twelve. And the survivors now marched, not only out of 



the Englishman's native and stubborn devotion to his rights, but 
with a mental image, not six hours old, of the charging, shouting 
light infantry, the acid puffs of gun smoke floating above, and the 
sprawled bodies scattered below. 

By noon, too, the news of Lexington Common had traveled 
scores of miles in an ever widening circle of Middlesex, Suffolk, 
and Norfolk counties. Hundreds of minutemen dropped their 
tools in the workshops, their pens in parsonage studies, their 
plows in the fields, their axes in the woods, and, lining up on 
their village greens, went tramping off with their awkward music 
in unfamiliar and imperfect cadence toward Lexington. Ten, 
twenty, and thirty miles they marched, from Sudbury and Fram- 
ingham to the south, Billerica and Reading to the north, Stow on 
the west, Charlestown on the east, from Danvers, Dedham, Need- 
ham, Medford eventually from over forty towns in all. Many of 
them, after mustering and marching from their villages, broke 
ranks and went as the crow flies, across fields, through woods, 
over hill trails. 2 Half the time they ran, the Danvers company going 
sixteen miles in four hours. Before the day's fighting was over, 
some thirty-six hundred men, in companies of ten to forty, had 
poured into the area in a fifteen-mile-long strip from Concord 
to Lexington to Cambridge and had taken up positions on hills, 
behind walls and trees, in roadside houses and barns, waiting for 
the British. 

Back in Concord, at noon, Colonel Smith's forces took some of 
their wounded to local physicians for treatment. The expedition 
had not been thought sufficiently hazardous to justify sending an 
army surgeon along. Several of the wounded were taken to Dr. 
Timothy Minot's in the center of the town, where Smith and 
Pitcairn had already requisitioned chairs and set up an improvised 
staff headquarters on the lawn. Later, while Dr. Minot and Dr. 
John Cuming were treating the wounded. Smith, Pitcairn, and 
other officers gathered at Wright's Tavern for brandy and food. A 



servant from Dr. Minot brought to a wounded officer a watch 
inadvertently left at the doctor's. 

Some of the more seriously wounded were taken to private 
houses and quartered in bedrooms. At the shop of Reuben Brown, 
the harness maker who had scouted for the Concord militia at 
Lexington at dawn that morning,, a chaise was taken, and from 
John Beaton another was taken, to transport the wounded back 
to Boston. One of the British who had died on the half-mile 
retreat from the bridge, was buried summarily in the middle of the 
town. Some of their wounded, like the man at the bridge axed by 
the country boy, were left wandering or lying around and were 
listed as missing. Meanwhile, the Concord militia had disappeared ; 
the smoke from the burning gun carriages and stores had gone ; and 
Captain Parsons 5 three companies for all practical purposes 
abandoned on the other side of the river had returned unscathed. 
Smith, according to William Emerson, showed "great fickleness 
and inconstancy of mind" during the two hours after the fight at 
the Bridge, when he just wasted time in Concord. 3 He probably 
fretted about Gage's failure to send reinforcements or even to get 
a messenger to him. Finally, at noon, he gave the orders to march. 

Smith and Pitcairn could not have relished the prospect of 
parading back through Lexington and hostile countryside to Bos- 
ton. Smith had botched the whole assignment badly and beyond 
hope of recovery. Pitcairn, the major of marines, could have 
nothing left but contempt for the infantry, who had stampeded, 
failed to obey orders, and behaved equally badly at Lexington 
Common and at the North Bridge in Concord. Smith was so slow 
and ponderous that even his junior officers were openly criticizing 
him. As the companies formed for the returning march, three of 
the light infantry companies found that half of their officers were 
wounded. Nobody, of course, knew where the provincial militia 
was, or what it had in mind to do next, or even where it would 
appear again. 

So the uninspired procession started to move out of Concord. 



The ambulatory wounded walked in the middle of the columns, 
and those unable to walk rode on horses. Lieutenant Gould of the 
King's Own Regiment and Hull of the Forty-third Regiment, the 
most seriously wounded of the officers, went out ahead of the march 
in the commandeered chaises. There were no fifes and no drums. 
Their only purpose now was to get back to Boston, and they wanted 
to be as inconspicuous as possible. Taking the same route by which 
they had entered Concord some four hours earlier, the grenadiers 
marched in the road, the light infantry in flanking columns along 
the high ridge on their left and the edge of a great meadow on 
their right. They marched for ten or fifteen minutes, and there 
was no incident at all to mar their limping progress. The light 
infantry on the ridge encountered no militia. Then they came to 
Meriam's Corner, where the road to Lexington bore to the right 
and a road from Bedford came in from the left. 

At this fork, facing the approaching British columns, the house 
of Nathan and Abigail Meriam had stood for a hundred and 
twelve years, surrounded by pleasant meadows. To the east was 
a smaller house and across the Bedford road a barn. At the comer 
there was a little brook, and the Lexington road narrowed to a 
bridge that crossed it. Before the brook, the ridge, on which the 
light infantry had moved to flank the more heavily equipped 
grenadiers, sloped down to road level, and all the British forces 
were merged again along the road. 

Meriam's Corner, a mile from the center of Concord, was 
reachable not only by the Lexington road but through the Great 
Fields, which lay north of the ridge and extended a mile east of 
Concord. The provincial militia some five hundred, consisting 
of those who had forced the bridge at Concord and later arrivals 
from other towns had moved across the fields as the British 
were marching down the road. Also coming into Meriam's Corner, 
from the north along the Bedford road, was the Reading company 
of militia, headed by Dr. John Brooks. Behind them was the 
Billerica company. From over the meadows to the south of the 


Lexington road came the companies from East Sudbuiy and Fram- 
ingham. Dr. Brooks led his men to cover behind the Meriam 
houses and barns. 

As the British tightened their columns to pass over the narrow 
bridge, marching silently, slowly, and evenly, the militia opened 
fire on them. Amos Barrett, the Concord mimiteman who had en- 
joyed the music so much in the morning, wrote of his enemy, 
"They were waylaid and a great many killed. When I got there, 
a great many lay dead and the road was bloody." 4 

To the retreating British, tired from their night march, fired on 
from the rear and both flanks and unable to see most of their 
attackers, it seemed as if there were thousands of militia sur- 
rounding them. Ensign de Bemiere said, "There could not be less 
than 500Q." 5 At first the British stood and returned the fire. But 
as they tried to hurry past Meriam's Corner, the truth gradually 
dawned upon them: they were not running just a few rods of hot 
fire but had a fifteen-mile march ahead through incessant fire. 
As they got toward Lexington into Lincoln, the little town that had 
been carved out of Concord on its west and Lexington on its east 
thirty years earlier, the minutemen of Captain Parker joined the 
battle. The British were now beginning to panic, as they ran a 
continuing shower of musket balls, leaving dead and wounded 
where they fell. 

The minutemen were swarming along the woods on both sides 
of the Lexington road though not nearly to the number of 
de Berniere's five thousand. Yet it could easily have seemed, from 
the shrewdly improvised tactics of the militia, as even more than 
that. The minutemen fired from behind trees, stone walls, or barn 
doors, ducked away through the woods or fields, and then re- 
appeared some yards down the road. As one company used up its 
ammunition and went home exhausted from running over the 
rough, brambly terrain, other companies from more distant places 
were just arriving. 

To the British, who had no alternative to staying on the road 



because It at best permitted speed and because if they ever got 
split up in the wilderness of woods off the road they would all be 
lost, the whole thing was an unspeakable nightmare. They were 
used to fighting in the open, where they and the enemy could 
plainly see one another. They were used to fixed-position fighting 
and to volley formations. Now they were facing or rather enduring 
a shower of fire from unseen marksmen in shifting positions. Lieu- 
tenant Sutherland, wounded in the shoulder at the bridge in 
Concord and unable to use a musket, was fiercely bitter about this 
innovation in infantry warfare. He accused the minutemen flatly 
of "making the cowardly disposition ... to murder us all/' and 
he spoke also of "rascals" and "concealed villains." 6 In Suther- 
land's formalized warfare shooting an enemy from concealed 
positions was murder not just killing. Although Lieutenant 
Barker of the King's Own was much too liberal with complaints 
about his own officers to have any left for the fighting techniques 
of the militia, the British feeling in general was that fighting from 
concealed positions was dirty and dishonorable. They saw no 
contradiciton in this attitude and their own conduct on Lexington 
Common earlier that morning, when, outnumbering the militia 
at least fourteen to one, they cut the provincials down in five 
minutes. In that case, the rules were respected. They were in the 
open, and each side could see the other plainly. 

The assault of the militia on the British columns became more 
intense and aggressive as the action moved eastward through 
Lincoln into Lexington, where the men of Captain Parker's com- 
pany, now fighting in their own way, sought vengeance for the 
morning. "We saw a wood at a distance," said the Reverend 
Edmund Foster, one of the Bedford minutemen, "which appeared 
to lie on or near the road the enemy must pass. Many [of the 
minutemen] leaped over the wall and made for that wood. We 
arrived just in time to meet the enemy. There was then, on the 
opposite side of the road, a young growth of wood well filled with 
Americans. The enemy was now completely between two fires, 


renewed and briskly kept up. They ordered out a flank guard on 
the left to dislodge the Americans from their posts behind large 
trees; but they only became a better mark to be shot at. ... 
Eight or more of their number were killed on the spot." 7 

Having been shot in the leg, the heavy Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith was put on a horse but found himself such a conspicuous 
target that he slid off and limped along with the troops. Pitcairn, 
taking command, charged up to the front of the columns and 
tried to get the panicky troops in some kind of order. His horse, 
frightened, threw him to the ground. The horse ran off, the major's 
pistols still in its saddle holsters, across the fields to the enemy, who 
with customary frugality put the pistols to use as General Putnam's 
side arms throughout the war and sold the horse at auction. 
Officers, sergeants, and rank-and-file fell under the fire, some being 
helped along by their comrades, some just left where they fell. The 
others fired aimlessly, as if in protest. One British officer com- 
plained "most of it was thrown away for want of that coolness 
and steadiness which distinguishes troops who have been inured 
to service. The contempt in which they held the rebels, and per- 
haps their opinion that they would be sufficiently intimidated by 
a brisk fire, occasioned this improper conduct; which the officers 
did not prevent as they should have done." 8 

The minutemen were fighting, of course, with no discipline 
or organization whatsoever. One of the provincial participants 
wrote, "Each sought his own place and opportunity to attack and 
annoy the enemy from behind trees^ rocks, fences, and buildings 
as seemed most convenient." 9 Some of the more experienced light 
infantrymen started attempts to flush out the minutemen lining 
the road. Since the effective range of a musket was no more than 
sixty to seventy yards, only a narrow strip along the road would 
have to have been cleared to keep the British safe. But the terrain 
was so varied and so full of perfect natural barriers behind which 
to hide, that the weary infantrymen had only isolated instances 
of success. When they came up behind Captain Wilson of the 



Bedford company waiting in ambush behind a barn, they shot him 
in the back. And old Jedediah Mimroe of Captain Parker's com- 
pany, who probably did not bother to conceal himself , was killed, 
and so was another of Parker's men, John Raymond, who had 
missed the morning muster. 

On the eastern slope of Fiske Hill on the western side of 
Lexington, James Hayward, of the Acton company, approached 
a house, from which a British soldier, looking for hidden marks- 
men, emerged to get a drink at the well. Looking up, the soldier 
saw the minuteman, lifted Hs gun, and said, "You're a dead man.'* 
Hayward replied, "So are you," and the two fired simultaneously. 
The soldier died on the spot and Hayward the next day. 10 

The sporadic British flanking operation, however, did not last 
long. The light infantry was running out of ammunition and was 
near exhaustion after having been in the field steadily for nearly 
fourteen hours. The unfamiliar warfare was beginning to break 
their spirit, and they stopped returning the militia fire. A horse 
in the British columns "that had a wounded man on his back and 
three hanging by his sides" was shot and fell with its burden in the 
roadway. 11 The minutemen, still increasing in numbers as new 
companies arrived, stepped up their fire. At last British morale 
collapsed completely, and the columns broke up into a running 
mob. "When we arrived within a mile of Lexington," de Berniere 
said, "our ammunition began to fail, and the light companies were 
so fatigued with flanking they were scarce able to act, and a great 
number of wounded scarce able to get forward made a great 
confusion ... we began to run rather than retreat in order . . . 
we [the officers] attempted to stop the men and form them two 
deep, but to no purpose. The confusion increased rather than 
lessened . . . The officers got to the front and presented their 
bayonets, and told the men if they advanced, they should die. Upon 
this they began to form under a very heavy fire." 12 Thus, as they 
passed Lexington Common in the early afternoon, the expedi- 
tionary force of the British, bleeding, frightened, tired, reached the 

1 80 


lowest ebb of an unfortunate day. "We must have laid down our 
arms or been picked off by the rebels at their pleasure/' Lieutenant 
Barker concluded gloomily. 13 

The battered force turned the corner at Lexington Common and 
stumbled down the straight stretch of the road that had brought 
them within sight of Captain Parker's company early that same 
morning. It is doubtful that they could have gone another mile, 
and they faced the tragical irony of coming to their end in the 
shadow of the Reverend Jonas Clarke's meetinghouse on Lex- 
ington Common. Instead of which, a four-pound cannon ball 
crashed through the wall of the meetinghouse from a fieldpiece a 
thousand yards away. It was the first artillery fire of the day, and 
it came from a cannon perched on a height on the Boston side of 
Lexington Common by the Right Honorable Hugh, Earl Percy. 
"I had the happiness of saving them from inevitable destruction,," 
His Grace wrote, of the rescue of Smith's stampeding force, to his 
father, the Duke of Northumberland. 14 


It was almost twelve hours earlier, shortly after leaving Cam- 
bridge on his ill-fated march, that Smith, aware that the news of 
his expedition was all over Middlesex County and that his secret 
raid was no secret, had sent his courier to Gage for reinforcements. 
As it happened, Gage himself had already been jolted by Lord 
Percy's report of the conversations on Boston Common revealing 
that both the fact and destination of Smith's march were generally 
known. Accordingly, he had given orders for Percy's First Brigade 
to be under arms at four in the morning, and he was undoubtedly 
joined by Percy in the decision to send fieldpieces with it. The 
First Brigade, consisting of three regiments of infantry, a battalion 
of marines, and a detachment of Royal Artillery, was almost twice 
the strength in manpower of Smith's force. Gage, obviously sen- 
sitive to the pressures of local Tories and the complaining ministry 



in London, did not want the expedition to fail. Altogether, half of 
his entire army was now involved in it. 

If Lord Percy's brigade had left at four in the morning, and 
even allowing for the long march out over Boston Neck, it would 
have been in Concord not later than ten o'clock, about the time 
of the battle at the North Bridge, instead of arriving in Lexington 
at two-thirty in the afternoon. But the brigade did not leave at 
four. It left at nine, five hours later, due to staff work at Gage's 
headquarters that matched in incompetence and incredible ir- 
responsibility anything that had distinguished Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith's efforts in the field. 

When he was awakened by Smith's courier at five, Gage must 
have been gratified by his own foresight in having ordered the 
First Brigade to be under arms at four. By then the men must have 
been awakened, dressed, and on the parade ground. The officers 
would have been rounded up from their lodgings scattered all 
over town. (The next day Gage was to order "the officers to lay 
in their men's barracks 'till further orders" and the troops "to lay 
dressed in their barracks this night." 15 ) But at four o'clock, and 
at five, too, all the regiments of the First Brigade were sound 
asleep, the troops in their barracks, and the officers dispersed all 
over Boston. The parade ground was empty. 

Gage's orders of the night before had been delivered to the 
brigade's major. Since the major was not at home, they were 
simply lft at his lodgings by Gage's aide, who made no inquiry 
about the major's whereabouts and no report on his errand. When 
the major did get home, his servant neglected to tell him that there 
was a message for him. So the major, who had probably had a 
fairly intense social evening by that hour, went to sleep. Shortly 
after five o'clock, when Gage was awakened by Smith's urgent 
message, an inquiry revealed that there was no brigade ready or 
even alerted to march. Lieutenant Frederick Mackenzie, the 
adjutant of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, who was so disturbed at 
the delay at the embarkation the night before, was considerably 



more upset over the delays of the morning. His regiment, which 
was supposed to have been under arms at four o'clock, received its 
orders, dated at six o'clock, at seven o'clock, directing it to be on 
the parade ground, with a day's provisions, at seven-thirty. With 
Mackenzie's no-nonsense attitude toward his duties as adjutant, 
no time was wasted in his regiment once the orders were received : 
"We accordingly assembled the regiment with the utmost ex- 
pedition, and with the 4th and 47th were on the parade at the 
hour appointed, with one day's provisions. By some mistake the 
Marines did not receive the order until the other regiments of the 
brigade were assembled, by which means it was half past 8 o'clock 
before the brigade was ready to march." 16 

The mistake with regard to the Marine battalion was even less 
excusable than the one with regard to the entire brigade the night 
before. When the whole brigade, except the Marines, were on the 
parade ground, an inquiry was sent to their barracks, where it 
was asserted, in what appears to have been strong language, that 
they never heard of the orders. Gage's staff and the brigade's 
insisted that they had. "In the altercation it came out that the order 
had been addressed to Major Pitcairn, who commanded the 
marines, and left at his headquarters, though the gentlemen con- 
cerned ought to have recollected that Pitcairn had been dispatched 
the evening before with the grenadiers and light infantry under 
Lieut. Col. Smith. This double mistake lost us from four till nine 
o'clock, the time we marched off to support Col. Smith." 17 

Later it must have been a bitter reflection to the cumbersome 
colonel that the one thing that he himself did not bungle on his 
expedition sending for help early enough was bungled for him 
by someone else, and that the orders responding to his call for 
reinforcements were addressed in Boston to his own second in com- 
mand, whom he had sent six hours earlier ahead of his main force 
on the way to Concord. 

At nine o'clock the First Brigade marched out of Boston and 
set out the long way William Dawes had taken, over the Neck, to 



Concord. From Cambridge they followed the same route that 
Smith had to Lexington. (The boats were still anchored on the 
Cambridge side of the Charles, waiting for Smith's forces when 
they returned, ) It was broad daylight, of course, and they marched 
all through the morning, through the noon hour, and into the 
early afternoon. But in odd contrast to the strangely floating 
population of dashing riders of the midnight and early morning 
hours that Smith's force had encountered, Percy's brigade found 
the whole countryside deserted. "In all the places we marched 
through, and in the houses on the road, few or no people were to 
be seen; and the houses were in general shut up." 18 

Although it later had nothing but grievous troubles, the first 
Brigade had, at least, a good night's sleep due to its almost farcically 
delayed orders and set out jauntily enough, the fifers and drum- 
mers of the thirty-two companies derisively playing "Yankee 
Doodle," as in the bright, clear sunlight of early spring they 
marched through country roads and village streets to the relief of 
their brothers. Not until they came to the Great Bridge over the 
Charles, just south of Harvard College, did they encounter trouble, 
which, due to another episode of military inadequacy this time 
on the provincial side did not impede them much. Nevertheless, 
it put Lord Percy on the alert that there was organized resistance 
to his march. Percy, the best mind by far among the British in 
Boston, knew very well that organized resistance meant that war 
had commenced. And he commanded his brigade as if war now 
prevailed. He had to stop his uneventful march at the Great Bridge 
over the Charles, because the provincials had stripped the bridge 
of its planks and only the stringers stretched across the river. This 
was a superb move on the part of the provincials. It could have so 
delayed Percy's brigade that Smith's force would have been 
annihilated. However, having removed the planks, the provincials 
carefully piled them up on the Cambridge end of the bridge. Percy 
sent some men over on the stringers, and they replaced enough 
planks for the brigade with their cannon to move across without 



too much delay. The supply wagons with their personnel he left 
behind to finish the job. 

Percy then proceeded to Harvard Square, where, the college 
being in spring recess and those students and tutors who had 
stayed in Cambridge having gone to Concord with arms from the 
college armory, there was nothing but an ominous quiet. 

The brigade's advanced guards had narrowly averted another 
fiasco when they had the imprudence to ask some students in 
Harvard Square the way to Lexington and were misdirected. A 
tutor, Isaac Smith of the class of 1767, said "he could not tell a 
lie" and sent them on the right road subsequent to which display 
of virtue he found it desirable to leave Cambridge to live in 
England until I786. 19 The brigade met no one else in Cambridge. 

And so it was all the way to Menotomy, Lord Percy com- 
plaining, "As all the houses were shut up and there was not the 
appearance of a single inhabitant, I could get no intelligence 
concerning them till I had passed Menotomy." 20 There, in the 
next town east of Lexington, his day's business with the provincials 
first began in one way or another. 

In Menotomy, Percy got the first direct news of what had 
happened to Smith's forces. The place still suspiciously empty of 
provincials, he encountered a chaise coming toward him. It con- 
tained Lieutenant Edward Gould of the Bang's Own, who had 
been badly wounded in the foot at the North Bridge in Concord. 
Gould told Percy that Smith's force had been and was still under 
heavy attack and was running out of ammunition, that what was 
left of it was on the way back to Boston, probably not far behind 
him and the wounded Lieutenant Hull, who was with him. Percy 
quickened his march, now about to cross the town line into Lex- 

As soon as Percy's brigade left Menotomy, provincials started 
to appear not the minutemen who were already harassing the 
retreat of Smith on the other side of Lexington, but the "exempts," 
the old men and others ineligible for the minute companies. First 



they captured Lieutenant Gould and Hull and sent them off to 
Medford for safekeeping. Then they intercepted Lord Percy's 
supply wagons. At first the grenadiers guarding them refused to 
take the orders of a dozen old men seriously. But the old men 
meant business and let loose a barrage that killed the driver and 
four "fine British horses," from which the good, thrifty people of 
Menotomy later removed the shoes. 21 At this display the six husky, 
armed grenadiers, true to the general values of the day, promptly 
surrendered to the dozen old men, and Percy never did get his 
supplies, for the old men took the second wagon, too. And in 
Menotomy, too, Percy heard for the first time the sharp report of 
the guns at Lexington probably all provincial by then and he 
marched his brigade down toward the Common. 

But they stopped short of it, within sight of the meetinghouse, 
at the beginning of the long straight stretch, where Pitcairn had 
stopped just ten hours earlier to prime and load to meet John 
Parker's company. Percy sized up the situation immediately, 
with regard both to the plight of Smith and to the likely moves 
of the provincials; and this gentleman soldier, moving with poise, 
alertness, and assurance, took over command of all His Majesty's 
forces on the scene and exhibited a skill in military leadership 
which the day had not yet seen. 


Earl Percy and his First Brigade made their first contact with 
Smith's exhausted forces at two-thirty, when both detachments, 
Percy's from the southeast and Smith's from the northwest, came 
within sight of opposite ends of the Common at Lexington. Percy 
wisely chose to stop his forces a half mile south of the Common, 
near Sergeant William Munroe's tavern, which he made his head- 
quarters. The site was excellent for a defensive delaying action 
and for regrouping. This point on the road offered an unob- 
structed view, and it was flanked by two hills, of which Percy took 

1 86 


immediate possession, placing one of Ms fieldpieces on each. The 
hill on the right, about a quarter of a mile in advance of that on 
the left, put the cannon within easy range of the Common. The 
one on the left, rising abruptly behind Munroe's Tavern, com- 
manded any approach from the Concord road over the fields to 
the west. 

Lieutenant Mackenzie of the Royal Welch Fusiliers left an exact 
account of the tactical situation on the Brigade's arrival: "As we 
pursued our march, about two o'clock we heard some straggling 
shots fired about a mile in our front: as we advanced we heard 
the firing plainer and more frequent, and at half after two, being 
near the church at Lexington, and the fire increasing, we were 
ordered to form the line, which was immediately done by extend- 
ing on each side of the road, but by reason of the stone walls and 
other obstructions, it was not formed in so regular a manner as it 
should have been. The grenadiers and light infantry were at this 
time retiring toward Lexington, fired upon by the rebels, who took 
every advantage the face of the country afforded them. As soon 
as the grenadiers and light infantry perceived the first brigade 
drawn up for their support, they shouted repeatedly, and the 
firing ceased for a short time. 

"The ground we first formed upon was something elevated, 
and commanded a view of that before us for about a mile, where 
it was terminated by some pretty high grounds covered with 
wood. The village of Lexington lay between both parties. We 
could observe a considerable number of the rebels, but they were 
much scattered, and not above fifty of them to be seen in a body 
in any place. Many lay concealed behind the stone walls and 
fences. They appeared most numerous in the road near the church, 
and in a wood in the front and on the left flank of the line where 
our regiment was posted. A few cannon shot were fired at those 
on and near the road, which dispersed them. The flank companies 
now retired and formed behind the brigade, which was soon fired 
upon by the rebels most advanced. A brisk fire was returned, but 


without much effect. As there was a piece of open morassy ground 
in front of the left of our regiment, it would have been difficult to 
have passed it under the fire of the rebels from behind the trees 
and walls on the other side. Indeed, no part of the brigade was 
ordered to advance; we therefore drew up near the morass, in 
expectation of orders how to act, sending an officer for one of the 
six pounders. During this time the rebels endeavored to gain our 
flanks, and crept into the covered ground on either side, and as 
close as they could in front, firing now and then in perfect security. 
We also advanced a few of our best marksmen who fired at those 
who shewed themselves," 22 

None of these scattered fringe shootings came to much, for 
Percy had already concluded that his job was only to get Smith's 
crippled force back to Boston and his own brigade with them. He 
had no intention of going beyond his orders and chasing the 
minutemen out of Lexington. Using his fieldpieces, he simply 
kept them as far away as possible, while the light infantry and 
grenadiers that had been to Concord sprawled exhausted on the 
fields around Munroe's Tavern, recovering their wind and 
strength, in the midst of what Percy staked out as a protected 
zone a great square with his soldiers forming lines to make the 
boundaries, across the Lexington-Boston road and up the hills on 
either side, down lines parallel to the road and then another line 
connecting them, again crossing the road. 

Within the square there was, in addition to William Munroe's 
tavern, a settlement of seven or eight houses, most of them close to 
a century old. Among them was the house of the Widow Mulliken, 
where Dr. Prescott had spent the evening before, courting Lydia. 
Nathaniel Mulliken had been Lexington's first clockmaker, and 
his small shop still stood near the house. Mrs. Mulliken's seven 
children ranged from her oldest son, Nathaniel, twenty-three, who 
had been on the common in the morning and fought again in the 
afternoon, down to a ten-year-old. Like most of the households 
along the main roads through Lexington from Concord to Boston, 


Hugh, Earl Percy (1742-1817), commanded the force that 
rescued the British expedition to Lexington and Concord. 
Later the second Duke of Northumberland, Percy was the only 
commanding officer of the day to distinguish himself. LEXING- 

Dr. Joseph Warren (1741-75),, a Boston physician, was prob- 
ably the most versatile of the Massachusetts patriots and easily 
the most charming in manners. He died two months after Lex- 
ington in the battle of Bunker's Hill MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, 


the Mulliken house was evacuated of women and children. And all 
morning while the British were occupied at Concord, the women 
had buried their silverware and other valuables all around the 
countryside and then repaired to the remoter farmhouses until the 
British had left for good. Near the Mulliken house were two others: 
the house and shop of Joshua Bond, the saddle and harness maker, 
and the considerably more pretentious establishment of Deacon 
Joseph Loring and his family of eight. 

All three of these houses were burned to the ground by the 
British, without doubt at the order of Percy, who had Smith's 
account of the provincials' invincible firing from the protection of 
roadside houses and who did not want his own rear guard 
molested as he moved out. Munroe's Tavern he used as a hospital 
for treating the wounded, and there he outlined to his officers the 
plan of retreat. He allowed the men of Smith's detachment a half 
hour's rest, ordered an occasional firing of the cannon to keep the 
provincials at bay (the cannon killed no one but seemed to have a 
considerable psychological effect as the militia saw the ball hit the 
meetinghouse, go in the front wall, and emerge from the back wall 
over the pulpit), and started reforming his men, now numbering 
about eighteen hundred, a third of whom were too battle-worn 
even to take care of themselves. These he put at the head of his 
column, the most protected place in the line as he learned from 
Smith's account of the flanking and rear-guard warfare of the 
provincials. Behind the Smith detachment he placed the Fourth 
and Forty-seventh Infantry Regiments, then the Marines Battalion 
and, finally, the Royal Welch Fusiliers Regiment as rear guard. 
He directed each of them to serve as rear guard in succession after 
every seven mfles. He put flanking parties far out to the sides to 
uncover snipers behind stone walls, trees, and buildings. At three 
forty-five, an hour or so after he arrived, he was ready to march. 

Percy in no way underestimated the rough path that lay ahead 
of him and knew also that General Gage would not, in order to 
send him help, dare to weaken the one and a half brigades left 



to hold Boston. His confidence, assurance, and command of the 
situation, nevertheless, had an immensely restorative effect upon 
both the officers, who had committed one mistake after another 
all day, and the men, who had as often as not paid no attention 
to them. Colonel Smith, with his massive weight now imposing 
upon an injured leg, was swallowed up in the anonymity of a pro- 
tected position within the columns where he could do no harm, 


While all this reorganization and restoration of the British 
was going on within sight of the Common, the minutemen from 
a score of towns kept a respectable distance, and most of them also 
rested. They also had some military reorganization visited upon 
them in the person of Major General William Heath, the first 
general officer to take command of an American army in the 
field. Appointed a general by the Second Provincial Congress 
in February, General Heath was a thirty-eight-year-old Roxbury 
farmer who developed a passionate interest in military theory as 
he grew up and spent all his spare time reading military treatises. 
In his Memoirs,, published after the war in the initial phase of a 
journalistic tradition now common among American generals, 
Heath described himself candidly as "of middling stature, light 
complexion, very corpulent and bald-headed." He had been a 
captain of Boston's Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company 
and Colonel of the First Regiment of the Suffolk Militia under 
Governor Sir Francis Bernard. After the provincials organized 
their own militia, he was chosen captain of the first Roxbury 
company. With four others he was appointed General Officer 
of the militia that was under the direction of the Committee of 
Safety, the directorate which functioned as commander in chief. 
On April i gth, Heath was the only one of the five general officers 
on the scene all day. He had spent the day before at the session of 
the Committee in Menotomy and had met some of the British 



advance officers, who had been sent out ahead of the Smith ex- 
pedition, on the Lexington-Boston road. Apparently Heath paid 
no particular attention to them. Although he saw that they were 
armed and therefore not out on pleasure rides, he made no 
inquiries in spite of the fact that the whole countryside was astir 
with riders in all directions. General Heath went home and to bed. 
In his Memoirs, in which he refers to himself as "our General/ 3 
he detailed his movements on the morning of the nineteenth : 

"On the igth, at daybreak, our General was awoke, called from 
his bed, and informed that a detachment of the British army were 
out. . . . Our General, in the morning, proceeded to the Com- 
mittee of Safety." 23 This was a proper and necessary thing for our 
general to do, because he was commissioned by the Committee 
and was authorized to act only under its direct orders. The Com- 
mittee, routed from its beds and forced to hide in the cornfield 
the night before, was still sitting in Menotomy. "From the Com- 
mittee," General Heath continued in his Memoirs., "he took a crossr 
road to Watertown, the British being in possession of the Lexington 
road. At Watertown, finding some militia who had not marched, 
but applied for orders, he sent them down to Cambridge, with 
directions to take up the planks, barricade the south end of the 
bridge, and there to take post; that, in case the British should, 
on their return, take that road to Boston, their retreat must be 
impeded." This, of course, must have been after Perc/s brigade 
had crossed the bridge in the morning, for there was neither a 
barricade nor a guard there when his men put back the planks 
removed earlier at the order of the Cambridge selectmen. Heath 
"then pushed to join the militia, taking a cross road towards 
Lexington, in which he was joined by Dr. Joseph Warren (after- 
wards a Major-General) who kept with him. Our General joined 
the militia just after Lord Percy had joined the British; and 
having assisted hi forming a regiment, which had been broken by 
the shot from the British field-pieces (for the discharge of these, 
together with the flames and snioke of several buildings, to which 



the British nearly at the same time had set fire, opened a new 
and more terrific scene) ," 24 

If General Heath intended to equate himself and his arrival on 
the provincial side with Lord Percy's on the British, he was 
certainly less successful "in forming a regiment." The mimitemen 
and other militia were just not susceptible of regimentation. It 
is significant that General Heath, even though the ranking officer 
present and the only general officer, claimed to have done no 
more than to assist. Actually, the provincials' forces did with 
Heath present exactly what they unquestionably would have done 
without him. They waited until the British were on the move again 
and they could have another round of the running war to which 
they were temperamentally attuned and at which alone they had 
any chance of success. And if Heath or anyone else had formed 
them in regiments, they would quickly have dispersed into patrols 
and sniper groups anyhow. 

Though the provincials were in no need of such a lifting of 
collapsed morale as the Smith expedition was, it had nevertheless 
been a day of tenseness, of tragedy to many families, of confusions, 
and, above all, of terrible commitment. Technically, they were all 
still British subjects and they were all of them guilty of high crimes 
in attacking the forces of their King. And there could be no 
turning back after the excitement of the chase died down. These 
farmers and craf tsmen, clergymen and physicians, from little towns 
all over the area, had committed themselves to however long it 
would tate to force by arms correction of the abuses to which 
they felt they had been subjected or to lose even those rights of 
life and liberty that had not been violated. And even though not 
all of them might have thus perceived and defined their situation, 
they nevertheless knew what it was all about and that their actions 
that springtime Wednesday were not just the deeds of one day to 
be forgotten on the next. There were several long pauses in the 
day's fighting during which they thought and consulted with 
one another, listened as was their custom during crises to their 



ministers the learned men and the political philosophers of their 
times and communities and had all the sober second thoughts 
that could have sent them home to their f aims and shops. 

It should also be remembered that the Provincial Congress, 
the guiding force behind all this day's fighting, although its creation 
was a masterful expression of the political genius of Samuel 
Adams and its proceedings a reflection of his skilled timing, 
derived whatever inherent strength and purpose it had from scores 
of town meetings, who debated the issues, elected their delegates, 
and sat down from time to time in long sessions to write them in- 
structions. So it is not at all unlikely that during the break in the 
battle at Lexington in the midafternoon, the minds of these men 
were already turning to the implications of the day, not so much 
in their effects upon history, as in their bearing upon day-to-day 
life the next week, the next month, and the next year. There were 
no shouts of victory in Lexington as the thoroughly shattered corps 
of Colonel Smith was pursued through town to the shelter of 
Percy's brigade. And if there was no morale problem among the 
provincials, there may well have been a deeper need. 

If so, it must have been met in great measure by the arrival of 
Dr. Joseph Warren. Adams and Hancock had disappeared before 
the firing on Lexington Common and were now safe in a parsonage 
out of town. But Dr. Warren, certainly sufficiently known to them 
as the boldest of all the patriot leaders, had come there to join them. 
Young at thirty-four, thoroughly convinced of British persecution 
of the colony, a gifted orator, Dr. Warren had virtually given up 
a large practice to devote himself to public affairs. With none of 
Samuel Adams' wile, or John Adams' hardheaded objectivity or 
John Hancock's theatrical opportunism, he was the thoroughly 
trusted work horse of the very early days of the Revolution and 
courageous to a fault. As late as the sixth of March, the fifth 
anniversary of the Boston Massacre, little more than six weeks 
before Lexington, he had stood in the pulpit of the Old South 
Meetinghouse in Boston and, while forty uniformed British officers 



squirmed in the front pews, launched upon an eloquent speech, 
in which he assailed the evils of lodging a standing army amidst 
a free people and resurrected the massacre in powerfully emotional 
if somewhat apocryphal terms. On the morning of the nineteenth 
of April, some eight hours after Warren had dispatched Revere 
to Lexington, a messenger came to him with the news of the firing 
on Lexington Common. He summoned a young colleague, Dr. 
William Eustis, and, turning his Boston office over to him, left 
for the Charlestown ferry and Lexington. On the way Warren 
tried to pass Lord Percy's column on the Cambridge road to 
Lexington but was stopped, and so he rode along behind them as 
far as the Black Horse Tavern in Menotomy, where he joined 
the Committee of Public Safety and General Heath, with whom 
he rode to Lexington. 

While Heath "assisted in forming a regiment," Warren un- 
doubtedly gave guiding counsel on the decision to pursue the 
British all the way back to Boston. A party to the proceedings of 
the Provincial Congress that called for the colonists to attack only 
to defend themselves, Warren was astute enough to realize that 
the episode in the early morning on Lexington Common was all 
that was needed to show Massachusetts innocent of any first 
spilling of blood and to unite the other colonies in action against 
the oppressors. To the conglomeration of militia that now poured 
into the northwest part of Lexington, while Percy was reordering 
his troops in the southeast sector, Dr. Warren was the Committee 
of Safety and therefore the only commander in chief they knew. 
Heath was his general officer and, as such, would naturally have 
carried out Warren's orders. In any case, at some time during 
that midafternoon hour of rest and reorganization that the British 
took under the shelter of Percy's cannon, the decision was made to 
pursue them to Boston, and Dr. Warren was the only official in 
town to make it. 

But neither Warren nor Heath evidently gave much further 
attention to the military aspects of the pursuit. With Percy's men 



immobilized, there was plenty of time to have sent advanced units 
to throw obstacles in the path of his retreat or to organize and 
carry out a major Banking movement. But nothing of this nature 
was decided or done not even a solution ventured to the most 
pressing problem of the militia, the shortage of powder and bullets. 
If there was any ammunition left in the Lexington meetinghouse, 
it was inaccessible, because, as Percy had established with one shot, 
the meetinghouse was well within range of the cannon he had 
perched on the hills down the road where his troops rested. It is 
not at all unlikely that the provincials, therefore, were spending 
their time on the discussion of less military and more general 
propositions than the distribution of powder. When the fighting 
did resume, there was no evidence of Heath's "regiment 33 or of 
planned strategy. Nor did Heath indicate in his Memoirs that he 
had any. The militia just broke up into small parties or individuals 
again, chased the British until their ammunition gave out or they 
got too tired or too far away from home, and then let the fighting 
be taken over by others nearer Boston, who were just arriving 
along the British retreat route. 

After listening to Smith and Pitcairn, Percy made an assump- 
tion, and it was correct. There would be no pitched battle, with 
the provincials lining up in a roadway or square in a frontal 
attempt to halt the British. They would fight as they had on the 
retreat from Concord, from concealed positions along the flanks 
and from the rear. He issued orders accordingly. If snipers were 
caught in houses, kill them. If necessary, bum down the house. 
In case of heavy attack, disperse the provincials by using the 
cannon. And always keep moving toward Boston. 

At quarter of four Percy gave the order, and his procession 
of eighteen hundred soldiers started the long and perilous road 
back. As soon as they moved, somewhere behind them at least 



an equal number of country militia scattered across the fields, 
through the woods, behind houses, to meet them. "Before the 
column had advanced a mile on the road," Lieutenant Mackenzie 
said in his diary, "we were fired at from all quarters, but particu- 
larly from the houses on the roadside and the adjacent stone walls, 
and the soldiers were so enraged at suffering from an unseen enemy 
that they forced open many of the houses from which the fire 
proceeded and put to death all those found in them. Those houses 
would certainly have been burnt had any fire been found in them, 
or had there been time to kindle any; but only three or four near 
where we first formed suffered in this way. As the troops drew 
nearer to Cambridge, the number and fire of the rebels increased, 
and although they did not show themselves openly in a body in 
any part, except on the road in our rear, our men threw away 
their fire very inconsiderately and without being certain of its 
effect: this emboldened them [the provincials] and induced them 
to draw nearer, but whenever a cannon shot was fired at any con- 
siderable number, they instantly dispersed." 25 

The most efficient fighting of the British was done by the 
flanking parties, who proceeded along the inside boundaries of the 
stone walls and raided, as they went, the houses from which shots 
came or were suspected to be coming. Whenever they tired, or the 
roughness of the terrain forced them to pull in toward their own 
marching columns, the militia came in closer, with deadlier fire, 
As the column moved across the flat plain of Menotomy, however, 
the troops in the main line of march could fire, and the exchange 
of shots got brisker. As the militia from the larger peripheral 
towns around Boston now took up the battle, Percy had to set 
up his fiddpieces again, and gained a little respite as the militia 
scattered before the cannon fire. Without stopping, he was able 
to get his flankers reorganized and, fanning out again, the flanking 
troops got some of the provincials between the British main column 
and the flankers. Here at Menotomy the British flanking tactics 



were at their most effective and the provincial militia probably 
at their most careless. 

A party of seven minutemen from the Danvers company got 
in advance of the British march and, barricading themselves 
behind walls, trees, and piles of shingles, waited to open fire on 
the column as it marched by on their right. But British flankers, 
coining up behind them on their left, made a wide sweep and 
killed all seven from the rear. A musket ball from other flankers 
knocked a pin out of Dr. Warren's hair. Another medical man, 
Dr. Eliphalet Downer, got into a bayonet duel with a British 
soldier, after both had missed their shots, and finally killed him 
by knocking him out with the butt and then stabbing him with 
the bayonet. Three Cambridge men were Hied in one spot by 
flankers who came upon them, and another group of four or five 
were killed in a hot exchange with flankers. But the shots of the 
unseen militia still peppered the now-tiring column of Lord Percy. 
His flankers, with increased desperation, probed the houses along 
the way to flush out the snipers. 

At the fork in the Lexington Road, where the left branch turns 
to Medford on the east and the right continues southeasterly to 
Cambridge, was the tavern of Benjamin Cooper. Nearby, along 
the Menotomy River, was the prosperous farm of Samuel Whitte- 
more, seventy-eight, father of nine children, including one 
daughter who gave him thirty-six grandchildren before she died 
at forty-eight. In his youth Whittemore had been a captain of 
dragoons in the service of George Ill's grandfather. Now, in his 
seventy-ninth year as he heard the Percy troops marching along 
the road, he grabbed his old musket, a brace of pistols, and the 
sword of his captain days and went forth alone to do battle with 
a brigade. He took shelter in an advantageous position by Cooper's 
Tavern. Within the tavern sat two known topers of Menotomy, 
Jason Winship and Jabez Wyman, who, at forty-three and thirty- 
nine, were over three decades Whittemore's juniors. With them in 
the bar were the innkeeper Cooper and his wife Rachel, both of 


whom fled to the cellar as the British approached. But the 
convivial brothers-in-law, Winship and Wyman, refused to budge : 
"They were drinking flip. Wyman was warned of the danger but 
says he, 'Let us finish the mug, they won't come yet.' " 26 Outside 
the tavern, from behind his stone wall barricade, the well-armed 
Whittemore, meanwhile, aimed his musket and killed a British 
soldier; he then took one of his pistols and killed another. By then, 
of course, the British had discovered his position, and several 
soldiers converged upon him. A part of his cheekbone was shattered 
by a musket ball, and a couple of flankers charged and beat him 
with the mercilessness that they bore to all hidden snipers. Satisfied 
that they had "killed the old rebel" 27 (Samuel Whittemore sur- 
vived and died eighteen years later at ninety-six), they turned 
their attention to the tavern, a famous Whig resort and a likely 
place for more snipers. Inside they found Winship and Wyman at 
their drinks and left them dead, for under the heavy fire that was 
raining on the British they took no time to interrogate able-bodied 
men along the line of their retreat. If they looked as if they could 
have fired, they were killed. 

Such a fate also overcame a Cambridge man. of limited mental 
development, William Marcy, who had been "warned out of 
town" by the selectman in 1770 as "a man of very poor circum- 
stances" but who stayed as a hired man of Dr. William Knee- 
land. 28 Marcy was accustomed to watching the British on their 
occasional exercise parades out of Boston. He thought that the 
retreat was merely another practice march. To improve his view 
he perched on a fence and noted to his delight that the exercise 
had the added attraction of sham firing. A bullet killed him. 

Nearby, John Hicks, an avid patriot and attendant at the 
Boston Tea Party, was shot through the heart as he blasted at the 
British, and so was Moses Richardson, who was also an active 
combatant. Not far away Jason Russell had barricaded himself 
behind his gate with bundles of shingles, "from which to fire on 
the enemy." 29 When a patrol of Essex militia sought refuge in 



Ms house from some flankers who had found them, Russell left 
Ms barricaded gate and joined them, ready to fire from the house. 
But the flankers caught up, and Russell fell in his doorway. Later 
in the afternoon. Hicks, Marcy, and Richardson, and Russell, 
Wynian, and WinsMp were buried in common graves and, in due 
time, memorialized on a granite shaft for falling "in defence of 
the Liberty of the People" the poor idiot, Marcy, and the 
drunken lingerers, WinsMp and Wyman, were immortalized along 
with their less serene contemporaries. 

Behind all these episodes in Menotomy and Cambridge was an 
increasingly desperate British brigade in full, and now once again 
thoroughly wearying, retreat and a provincial militia that seemed 
to be more numerous and less visible as the day wore on. In a 
determined attempt to stop the concealed firing, the British 
flankers inspected every house along the road. When they came 
to the house of Deacon Joseph Adams, who "knew that Ms life 
would be in danger, both on account of his name and also for his 
reputation for patriotic zeal," 30 wMch however did not include 
shouldering a musket, they found only the deacon's wife with her 
eighteen-day-old infant and three other children. The deacon 
himself had ran across the fields to Mde in the hayloft of the 
Reverend Samuel Cooke's barn. His nine-year-old son, Joel, took 
over the management of the household and saw Ms mother and the 
baby leave safely. He struck up a conversation with the soldiers, 
warned them against stealing the church silver, and used his 
father's ale to extinguish a small fire that they set on leaving. 31 

Meanwhile the British limped frantically on toward Boston. 
Lieutenant Mackenzie noted that the all-important flanking 
parties were getting less and less efficient, eventually causing more 
harm than good as they became mere plunderers. 

"During the whole of the march from Lexington the rebels kept 
an incessant irregular fire from all points at the column, which 
was the more galling as our flanking parties, wMch at first were 
placed at sufficient distances to cover the march of it, were at last, 



from the different obstructions they occasionally met with, obliged 
to keep almost close to It. Our men had very few opportunities 
of getting good shots at the rebels, as they hardly ever fired but 
under cover of a stone wall, from behind a tree, or out of a house; 
and the moment they had fired they lay down out of sight until 
they had loaded again, or the column had passed. In the road in- 
deed in our rear, they were most numerous, and came on pretty 
close, frequently calling out, 'King Hancock forever. 9 Many of 
them were killed in the houses on the road side from whence they 
fired; in some of them seven or eight men were destroyed. Some 
houses were forced open in which no person could be discovered, 
but when the column had passed, numbers sallied out from some 
place in which they had lain concealed, fired at the rear guard, and 
augmented the numbers which followed us. If we had had time to 
set fire to those houses many rebels must have perished in them, 
but as night drew on Lord Percy thought it best to continue the 
march. Many houses were plundered by the soldiers, notwith- 
standing the efforts of the officers to prevent it. I have no doubt 
this inflamed the rebels, and made many of them follow us farther 
than they would otherwise have done. By all accounts some soldiers 
who staid too long in the houses, were killed in the very act of 
plundering by those who lay concealed in them. We brought in 
about ten prisoners, some of whom were taken in arms. One or 
two more were killed on the march while prisoners by the fire 
of their own people." 32 

Battered as his forces were, Lord Percy won the only tactical 
duel on a command level that day. General Heath had ordered 
the taking up of the planks of the Great Bridge across the Charles, 
over which Percy's brigade had marched that morning, and the 
use of them to barricade the bridge on the south or Brighton side 
of the river. The Charles at that point was not fordable; and if 
Percy had attempted to return to Boston by the same route that he 
left, his brigade would have been driven into the river or annihi- 
lated by the militia. However, if he turned off the Cambridge 



road, to the east, north of Harvard., he could get to Charlestown, 
directly across from the rest of Gage's army in Boston and within 
the protection of the guns of the man-of-war Somerset in the river 
basin. Heath anticipated this, and for the first time that day Percy 
saw some of the militia in the open in a group. They stood bravely 
across the Charlestown road, ready to force the British to take the 
road to the Great Bridge, Percy stopped and ordered the cannon to 
the fore and fired a shot. The militia scattered immediately to their 
hidden positions. Percy resumed his march, and the militia "came 
down to attack our right flank in the same straggling manner the 
rest had done before. . . ," 33 

It was dark when at last Percy got Ms unhappy brigade on the 
hills of Charlestown at eight in the evening. He had taken four 
hours to march his hobbling, frustrated army the twelve miles 
from Lexington. His ammunition was almost entirely spent. He 
had left behind the dead and many of his wounded. Some of his 
soldiers, lingering too long as they pilfered the raided houses, were 
taken prisoner by the provincials. A few appeared to have been 
voluntary captives. Just before Percy's columns marched over the 
thin neck of land between the Charles and Mystic rivers leading to 
Charlestown, they were saved from the last and perhaps most 
hazardous threat of the day by the miscalculation of the only 
militia officer who took an unexcited view of the day's affairs. 

Colonel Timothy Pickering, commanding the three hundred 
men in the militia of Salem, fifteen miles north of Boston, was 
brought the news of the firing at Lexington between eight and 
nine in the morning: Pickering reasoned that if the British troops 
had fired at six, then they would be almost back in Boston by nine 
and that since Salem was farther from Boston than Lexington was, 
there was no point in marching his company. With the minutemen 
from other Essex county towns on the march, the Salem citizens 
started exerting pressure on Pickering, and he finally suggested a 
meeting of the selectmen to discuss the situation. Finally, "to 
satisfy our fellow citizens," Pickering ordered his company to 



march. 34 He still thought it a futile business, however, and stopped 
the march a few miles out of town, expecting a messenger to come 
along to say that the British were already back in Boston. None 
came, and the minutemen of his company began to urge him on. 
At last he yielded and started his march in earnest, getting to 
Charlestown in time to see Percy's brigade just out of his reach 
get to the protection of Bunker's Hill, where any provincial attempt 
to dislodge him would have to survive the sixty-four guns of the 
man-of-war Somerset. 

Of the effect of Timothy Pickering's procrastination on Percy's 
retreat, Washington wrote, May 31,17755 "If the retreat had not 
been as precipitate as it was, and God knows it could not well 
have been more so, the ministerial troops must have surrendered 
or been totally cut off. For they had not arrived in Charlestown 
(under cover of their ships) half an hour before a powerful body 
of men from Marblehead and Salem was at their heels and must, 
if they happened to be one hour sooner, inevitably intercepted 
their retreat to Charlestown." 30 

"As soon as the British gained Bunker's Hill, they immediately 
formed in a line opposite to the neck," wrote General Heath; 
"when our General [i.e., Heath] judged it expedient to order the 
militia, who were now at the Common, to halt and give over the 
pursuit, as any further attempt upon the enemy in that position 
would have been futile." 36 Lieut. Barker, who had been with the 
British expedition since the embarkation the night before, saw it 
differently: "The rebels did not choose to follow us to the hill, 
as they must have fought us on open ground and that they did not 
like." 37 

When the last shot was fired, the British had suffered 273 
casualties (73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing), a rate of 
very nearly twenty per cent. The provincials, including militia 
and such accidental presences as the drunks at Menotomy and 
the feeble-minded Marcy, had 93 casualties (49 killed, 39 
wounded, and 5 missing) a rate of about two and a half per cent 



of the total militia participating. In addition, the British had de- 
stroyed at Concord a wholly insignificant amount of gunpowder, 
arms, and ammunition, burned three houses at Lexington, and 
damaged a few others. Lieutenant Barker of the King's Own com- 
pleted his indictment of the entire affair, with one last and solid 

"Thus ended this Expedition, which from beginning to end was 
as iH planned and ill executed as it was possible to be; had we 
not idled away three hours on the Cambridge Marsh waiting for 
provisions that were not wanted, we should have had no inter- 
ruption at Lexington, but by our stay the country people had got 
intelligence and time to assemble. [Barker was, of course, wrong 
in this: Parker had his men assembled three hours before the 
British arrived, dismissed them, and recalled them. But in general, 
Barker was right about the price that the British paid for Colonel 
Smith's constant slowness.] We should have reached Concord soon 
after daybreak, before they could have heard of us, by which we 
should have destroyed more cannon and stores, which they had had 
time enough to convey away before our arrival; we might also 
have got easier back and not been so much harassed, as they would 
not have had time to assemble so many people . . . Thus, for a 
few trifling stores the Grenadiers and light Infantry had a march 
of about fifty miles (going and returning) through an enemy's 
country, and in all human probability must every man have been 
cut off if the brigade had not fortunately come to their assist- 

ance." 3 * 

Lord Percy ended the day full of admiration for the provincial 
miEtia and permitted himself a prophecy: "Whoever looks upon 
them as an irregular mob, will find himself much mistaken; they 
have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, 
having been employed as rangers against the Indians and Cana- 
dians, and this country being much covered with wood and hilly, 
is very advantageous for their method of fighting . . . You may 
depend upon it, that as the rebels have now had time to prepare, 



they are determined to go through with it, nor will the insurrection 
here turn out so despicable as it is perhaps imagined at home." 30 
Night came, after the long day, to the British now lying ex- 
hausted on the Charlestown slopes, to the minutemen who en- 
camped on the other side of Charlestown Neck, and to the little 
towns of Lexington and Concord, now forever plunged into 
history. It was a day full of mistakes. But it was a day also that 
made its point. 



"7 would wish to have all the impartial and 
reasonable world on our side. I would wish to 
have the humanity of the English nation engaged 
in our cause. . . ." 


As an example of military skill the nineteenth of April, 1775, 
spoke poorly indeed for the Anglo-Saxon people. The British army 
and the British command came close to providing a new standard 
of incompetence on every level and in every respect: headquarters 
staff work was inconceivably bad; except for Percy the field 
commanders were slow, unimaginative,, and consistently wrong in 
their decisions; the junior officers didn't know what to do, and 
what they did do, they did badly; the private soldiers were dis- 
graceful in their conduct disobedient, hysterical when they were 
winning, and hysterical when they were losing. Yet there is some- 
thing to be said for the spirit of the soldiers once they had a knowl- 
edgeable commander in Lord Percy. They endured an unfamiliar 
guerrilla war all the way from Concord to Boston, heavily out- 
numbered and after a long march out of Boston, "without the in- 
termission of five minutes altogether, I believe, upwards of eighteen 
miles/' 2 And except for the flanking parties it was only occasionally 



that the troops could see their enemy, most of whom were behind 
walls although Benjamin Franklin, not much impressed when 
the British complained to him about all the firing from behind 
walls, asked quietly "whether there were not two sides to the 

As for the American militia, it could have destroyed most of 
Smith's forces before they ever returned to Lexington and the 
shelter of Lord Percy's relief brigade with its fieldpieces. It could 
have inflicted much more disastrous losses upon the combined 
British forces between Lexington and Cambridge. And it could 
have shut off Percy's retreat, not only by way of the bridge over the 
Charles, but also by way of Charlestown Neck. Totally without 
strategy and only with improvised tactics and with every man in 
command of himself when he got into the battle zone, the pro- 
vincial action of the day amounted, in military terms, primarily 
to a long harassment of a retreat that Percy ran his own way. The 
inefficiency of the musket at more than sixty yards rendered the 
overwhelming majority of the provincial firing harmless, and there 
was no planning of the use of manpower to make the militia any 
more effective. 

If the day's battle was far from an exemplary military perform- 
ance, however, it was close to perfect for the colonial cause in a 
much larger and more important sense. In the first place, it shut 
the British up in Boston so that they never again ventured far out 
until the evacuation nearly a year later. This cleared the atmos- 
phere considerably, because it forced the colonial Tories to take 
refuge in Boston and it moved the Whigs in Boston to get out 
into the country. Secondly, it brought to an end the specter gov- 
ernment of Gage, who was reduced by seven o'clock on the evening 
of April nineteenth to the position of the commanding officer of 
a small garrison army occupying a single town three thousand 
miles from home. Far greater in significance than either of these 
was its immediately unifying effect, first, upon the province of 
Massachusetts Bay and, second, upon all the colonies. And this 



was the achievement of probably the most skillf ul propaganda and 
political strategy in all American history. 

For this purpose the events of April nineteenth, 1775, were 
ideal. The British had marched out of Boston in force and "with 
baggage and artillery." The British had fired to kill first. The 
British had destroyed property. There had been bloodshed and 
death the fact that there were more British than American lives 
lost was insignificant in view of the eight provincials killed at dawn 
on Lexington Common. All this established beyond any doubt that 
the Americans had been the victims. At the same time and this 
was equally important the Americans were also the victors. The 
half-believed arguments of two years' standing that the American 
colonists would never stand up to British regulars was thoroughly 
shattered. The irresolution of the Massachusetts people was gone 
in fourteen hours. The longed-for but thinly rooted chance of 
permanent reconciliation was devastated. 

Yet on the morning of April twentieth there were two wholly 
different pictures of the preceding day in the minds of honest men. 
To General Thomas Gage, still the legal and nominal Governor 
of Massachusetts, it was a picture of subjects of the King in a 
rebellious and treasonable uprising against His Majesty's troops 
in the execution of their duties, resulting in the killing of seventy- 
three of them. It was an action encouraged if not inspired by men 
who had formed themselves, in contempt of all law and loyalty, 
into an illicit government created to destroy the only duly con- 
stituted government. But to the provincial leadership the picture 
was one of a patient and oppressed people, finally put to the ul- 
timate injustice of suffering the loss of their lives and properly 
because they would not cower before the brutal enforcement of 
unjust and immoral laws. Which of these pictures would endure in 
the minds not only of the people of the colonies but of many of 
those in Britain would have a determining effect upon the years 



The provincial leadership moved swiftly and effectively to win 
this decisive propaganda battle. Adams and Hancock set out for 
Philadelphia and the Continental Congress, the scheduled meeting 
of which was now to become the first critical national forum of the 
Revolution. The propaganda uses of Lexington and Concord 
were left in the competent hands of Dr. Joseph Warren. 

During the British retreat from Lexington, Dr. Warren was con- 
spicuous as the only political leader who followed Percy's force 
with the militia all the way to Charlestown, exposing himself to 
enemy fire constantly. One bullet, during the brisk fighting on 
the flat stretch through Menotomy, shot a pin from the doctor's 
wig. His action as a fighting man, as an inspirer of the other 
men, and as a physician rushing in under fire to aid the wounded 
won the wholehearted admiration of all the militia, and the story 
of his participation in the battle was spread all through eastern 
Massachusetts. There is no question that on April twentieth the 
thirty-three-year-old Boston physician was the most popular and 
influential political figure in the colony. 

The youngest of the provincial leaders. Warren had been edu- 
cated at Harvard in the closing years of Edward Holyoke's in- 
cumbency as president, taught at the grammar school in Roxbury, 
studied medicine, and began his practice at twenty-three. Dr. 
Warren was an attractive personality, friendly, somewhat elegant 
in his manners, exceptionally well read, and genuinely democratic. 
He developed considerable skill and reputation as a physician and 
rapidly built up one of the largest practices in Boston among both 
the rich merchants and the poor laborers. He paid little attention 
to his financial affairs. After the passage of the Stamp Act, in 
1765 the year after Warren started his practice he became in- 
tensely interested in the constitutional aspects of the controversy 
and took to spending all his evenings in study and discussion of 



political philosophy. He finally concluded that the conduct of 
England with regard to the American colonies was a rejection of 
principles as old as British liberty. His contributions to the press 
on the subject brought him to the attention of both the Samuel 
Adams factions in Boston and the ministry in London, and he 
soon became a frequenter of the political dubs. His dedication to 
the idea of freedom was as passionate as Adams' own, but he saw 
the job of the patriots to be a restoration of traditional British 
rights and freedoms and not severance from England. To restore 
those rights he was willing to fight, if necessary, but he was a 
powerful believer in the strength of the pen and of the spoken word. 
He became, while still in his twenties, a gifted and persuasive 
orator, an effective and indefatigable committee worker, and 
gradually the second-in-command to Adams. Unlike the latter, he 
had as much enthusiasm for the physical tasks of the little faction 
that strove to keep the fires of resistance alive as he did for the 
intellectual chores. 

After his young wife died in 1773 and left four small children. 
Warren brought their grandmother to his house to care for them, 
while he stood watch with the mechanics and tradesmen, some- 
times patrolling the streets of Boston all night and then going 
about his medical practice after breakfast in the morning. Although 
he was urbane and gregarious, he was also fiery on occasion, quick- 
tempered and impulsive and enormously courageous. Once when 
he did not like the surly tone of a British sentry in challenging Mm, 
he knocked the armed soldier down with his bare fist. Nothing 
irritated him so much as the repeated British refrain, also taken up 
in somewhat vociferous echoes by the domestic Tories, that the 
colonials would run from British regular troops. "These fellows 
say we won't fight; by heavens, I hope I shall die up to my knees 
in blood." 4 

By 1775, Dr. Warren had developed a skill in propaganda that 
was matched only by that of Samuel Adams. He had, as Adams' 
understudy, gone through the ten-year cold war in Boston among 



the mobs, the tradesmen and mechanics., the political clubs, the 
common men of the town; and he had learned a great deal about 
the sway that emotions could have over their minds. He learned 
how to fortify reason with appeals to the emotions and also learned 
Samuel Adams' doctrine that facts were useful only to begin with, 
that they have to be built upon, exaggerated, sometimes distorted, 
that a fact in itself was a dead thing, that it came to life only with 
the uses made of it. In March of 1 772, when apathy in the dispute 
with Britain was at its worst, his fervid oration on the second 
anniversary of the Boston Massacre had whipped up a new en- 
thusiasm and, aided by an incendiary peroration by Adams, nearly 
started a riot in the Old South Church against the British soldiers 

Gradually, Samuel Adams came to trust Warren more than 
any of the patriot leaders, and Warren became in turn an extension 
of Adams' own dedicated personality, though with infinitely more 
grace. As Adams spent more and more time out of Boston after 
the Port Act went into effect in May 1774, in order to cement 
provincial feelings against the British and to create a provincial 
governmental structure, he left the cause in Boston in the hands 
of Warren. 

Adams was always moving on, always widening the arena of 
colonial resentment. After the Massacre of 1770, it was the town 
of Boston he wanted to consolidate in a spirit of rebellion. After 
the closing of the port in 1 774, it was the province of Massachusetts 
Bay. After the punitive Regulating Act, it was all the New England 
colonies. After Lexington, it was all the American colonies. He had 
great work to do in Philadelphia, and he left the great work at 
home to Dr. Warren. 

Warren did not fail him. Although he had twice given the Boston 
Massacre anniversary orations, he knew as well as John Adams 
did that the event had furnished something less than pure martyrs. 
The mischievous Boston ropewalkers, taunting and attacking 
British patrols, had proved an impossibly difficult cluster of 



sacrificial lambs to sell the other colonies, and in five years the 
canonization of the victims had not got beyond a local consistory. 
Now, however, on the morning of April twentieth, there were 
simple country yeomen, good farmers and craftsmen, physicians 
and ministers, who were the combatants men who could never 
be accused of mobbism and irresponsible agitation. And they had 
fallen not in the streets of Boston in the shadow of British barracks 
but on country roads in front of their own houses, some of them on 
their own doorsteps. Dr. Warren, keenly aware of the value of 
every thread in the narrative of the day's events, started weaving 
together a net of evidence, incidents, premises, and testimony that 
accomplished in a matter of days what debate and oration had 
failed to bring about in ten years. 

On Thursday morning, April twentieth. Warren was in Cam- 
bridge with the militia who were encamped there after chasing 
Perc/s brigade back to Boston. The Provincial Congress would 
not be meeting until Saturday, the twenty-second, and Warren 
accordingly set up a civil headquarters, run by himself, as the first 
American generals, headed by Artemas Ward, set up their military 
headquarters. At noon there came a letter from the Committee of 
Supplies, meeting at Concord, "expressing their joy at the event 
of the preceding day." 5 Warren ignored the elation of the official 
body, knowing full well that the one completely wrong way to 
handle the event was to be anything but sorely grieved at it and to 
allow too much or too premature emphasis to be put upon it as a 
colonial victory. He himself wrote the first circular on Lexington 
and Concord, and it went out to the towns of the colony, with the 
authority of the Committee of Safety, of which he was chairman in 
Hancock's absence, less than twenty-four hours after the battle 
ended. There was none of the Committee of Supplies* "joy" in it. 

"Gentlemen, The barbarous murders committed on our in- 
nocent brethren, on Wednesday, the igth instant, have made it 
absolutely necessary that we immediately raise an army to defend 



our wives and our children from the butchering hands of an in- 
human soldiery, who,, incensed at the obstacles they met with in 
their bloody progress, and enraged at being repulsed from the field 
of slaughter, will, without the least doubt, take the first opportunity 
in their power to ravage this devoted country with fire and sword. 
We conjure you, therefore, by all that is dear, by all that is sacred, 
that you give all assistance possible in forming an army. Our all is 
at stake. Death and devastation are the instant consequences of 
delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. An hour lost may 
deluge your country in blood and entail perpetual slavery upon the 
few of your posterity who may survive the carnage. We beg and 
entreat, as you will answer to God himself, that you will hasten 
and encourage by all possible means the enlistment of men to form 
the army, and send them forward to headquarters, at Cambridge, 
with that expedition which the vast importance and instant ur- 
gency of the affair demand"* 

This is a remarkably skillful document. There is not a single 
fact in it. There is not a place named, a detail revealed, a statistic 
given. There is not a military objective stated nor a military action 
reported. There is not an inkling of what happened, what was in- 
volved, what the outcome was or even where. There is, indeed, 
not a single reference, beyond the general language of the opening 
phrase, to what had happened. It is concerned with what was 
ahead rather than with what had occurred. It had one objective 
the one objective Samuel Adams had worked on assiduously ever 
since the First Provincial Congress assembled in October 1774 
and the objective that was failing so miserably as the Second 
Provincial Congress shrunk to a halfhearted end at Concord not 
a week earlier the raising of a provincial army. Dr. Warren was 
going to get the army. 

His first move was wisely made. He knew that rumors were 
flying all over Massachusetts and that the facts, however awful in 
their significance, would be pale beside them. Four thousand 



minutemen from forty towns had seen blood and death. Four 

thousand reports were already getting back to virtually the entire 

population of eastern Massachusetts. They would vary from slight 

exaggerations, as oral reports in the first excitement of great events 

almost always do, to the wildest stories of murder and despoliation. 

They would be repeated and grow in the repetition. Dr. Warren, 

in his circular, used language that could confirm any rumor and 

in so doing put the rumors to work for him in his plea for the army. 

Warren had the physician's cold diagnostic approach to all this. 

No fanatic, he simply, and with the greatest objectivity, chose a 

means he thought suitable to the end desired. On the very same day 

that he used such terms as "the butchering hands of an inhuman 

soldiery" in referring to the British army, he wrote General Gage 

a gentle and strangely sad letter : u . . . Your Excellency, I believe, 

knows very well the part I have taien in public affairs: I ever 

scorned disguise. I think I have done my duty: some may think 

otherwise; but be assured, sir, as far as my influence goes, every 

thing that can reasonably be required of us to do shall be done, 

and every thing promised shall be religiously performed. ... I 

have many things that I wish to say to Your Excellency, and most 

sincerely wish I had broken through the formalities which I 

thought due to your rank, and freely had told you all I knew or 

thought of public affairs; and I must ever confess, whatever may 

be the event, that you generously gave me such opening as I now 

think I ought to have embraced. . . ," 7 This young physician was 

a knowing man, sensitive to the unhappy twists of history for aH 

his active partisanship. 

And the rumors were all that Dr. Warren had assumed. In the 
absence of any authoritative news from Warren himself, every 
man created his own version of the affair in letters, in verbal 
reports, in abrupt "accounts" passed on to Committees of Cor- 
respondence. "Rumor on rumor," an aged deacon of Brighton 
wrote in his diary; "men and horses driving post up and down the 
roads . . . people were in great perplexity. Women in distress 



for their husbands and friends who had marched . . /' 8 From a 
Boston Whig, John Andrews, there went out a story of massacre in 
Jonas Clarke's meetinghouse on Lexington Common, "when the 
soldiers shoved up the windows and pointed their guns and killed 
three there." 9 

One atrocity story after another spread through the province,, 
then to the other colonies, and finally overseas. "Such is the bar- 
barity of the king's troops that seven of the mercenaries, with their 
bayonets fixed, entered the house of one Hindman, a husbandman 
near Concord and inhumanly murdered his wife, who had laid 
in but a few days, by stabbing her several parts of the body. . . ." 10 
There was nobody, male or female, named Hindman even 
wounded that day. There was no woman, in Concord or anywhere 
else, so much as slapped by a British soldier. And in ConcoVd, of 
course, the women were treated with such consideration that the 
munitions raid was reduced almost to an absurdity. From another 
quarter came a story of the invasion of a house where the British 
"put the inhabitants, being thirteen in number, to the sword. This 
gentleman bears ample testimony to the courage of the Americans 
and observes that, out of the thirteen, one only pleaded for his 
life, alleging that he could not possibly have annoyed the troops, 
being confined to his bed with a broken thigh." 11 Not even a 
single town, let alone one house, suffered as many as thirteen 
deaths Lexington had the greatest number with nine and there 
is no record of deaths by the sword. "They entered one house in 
Lexington where were two old men, one a deacon of the church, 
who was bed-ridden, and another not able to walk, who was sitting 
in his chair; both these they stabbed and killed on the spot, as well 
as an innocent child running out of the house." 12 No one was killed 
in any house in Lexington, nor were any ancient immobile men or 
little children; all Lexington fatalities were members of Captain 
Parker's company. 

Eyewitnesses saw things that never happened. "I saw some 
houses that had been set on fire, and some old men, women and 



children tliat had been killed," and "There was a number of 
women and children burnt in their houses." 13 As the rumors had 
it, only old men, women, and children were killed, except for a 
cripple here and there. There were actually, of course, no women or 
children even wounded, although an adolescent boy, sitting in the 
window of a Charlestown house from which snipers fired on the 
British in the last stages of their retreat at dusk, was shot in the 
neck. Most all the men killed were actively engaged in combat, 
and the average age was very low. Only two of the men killed on 
Lexington Common were over thirty-one; and of the seven killed 
in the Danvers company, all were under twenty-five, except the 
captain, who was thirty-three. The only really old man. who met his 
death from British action was Sudbur/s seventy-nine-year-old 
Deacon Josiah Haynes. Far from being helpless, he was up at 
dawn, marched, bearing his heavy musket, eight miles to the bridge 
at Concord, and there berated his captain, John Nixon, for not 
starting an attack ("If you don't go and drive them British from 
that bridge, I shall call you a coward." 14 ), and joined enthusias- 
tically in the pursuit of the British in the afternoon, when he was 
killed while energetically reloading his musket to kill more of them. 
The rumors reached an extreme in some towns that led to mass 
evacuations in the face of the wildest imaginings of insatiable 
British troops storming across the countryside, burning, robbing, 
torturing and murdering all because nobody knew what had 
happened and that the British army was even then licking its 
wounds in impotent isolation in a now-besieged Boston, with no 
intention and little hope of going anywhere. At Ipswich, twenty- 
five miles northeast of Boston, someone started a rumor that British 
soldiers were being landed from cutters and were already hacking 
their way through the village. Within an hour the news that the 
population of Ipswich was all but wiped out reached Beverly, ten 
miles to the south. At a town meeting in Newbury, ten miles to 
the north, a courier unceremoniously interrupted a long prayer of 
the Reverend Thomas Gary with an alarm: "Turn out, for God's 



sake, or you will all be killed. The regulars are marching on us; 
they are at Ipswich now, cutting and slashing all before them." 15 
As the alarm spread all through the towns of eastern Essex County, 
old ladies were bundled in chaises off to the back country, papers 
and valuables were hidden, men grabbed their muskets to march 
somewhere anywhere and women and children hiked away 
into the woods, leaving the villages completely deserted. The 
townspeople of one town rushed to the next, taking up temporary 
residences in houses vacated by populations who had in turn moved 
on to the next town and up into the coastal towns of New Hamp- 
shire. Oxen were yoked to haul household effects, and the streets 
of empty villages were strewn with utensils and bedding that fell 
off the carts and wagons. In Portsmouth the militia were notified 
by seven different express riders to march in seven different di- 
rections, and everyone seemed to think that Portsmouth itself was 
doomed, due to the absence of its local militia leader, John 
Sullivan: "Oh ! if Major Sullivan was here ! I wish to God Major 
Sullivan was here!" 16 But Major Sullivan was on his way to the 
Continental Congress in Philadelphia 3 and they posted a guard 
around his house to save it from the invisible invader. 

But the rumors did the work that Dr. Warren had in mind. A 
provincial army sprang into being, after all the exhortations of the 
Provincial Congress had failed, overnight. In a steady stream, from 
twenty-five, fifty, a hundred miles away, militia set out for the camp 
in the Harvard Yard at Cambridge, most of them reaching the 
headquarters during the morning and afternoon of the twentieth. 
General Artemas Ward left with the Shrewsbury militia and, 
arriving in Cambridge, took over the command from "our 
General" Heath. From Connecticut, Israel Putnam, lieutenant 
colonel of all the Connecticut militia, mounted his plow horse in 
the field where he was working and, without stopping to change 
his clothes, rode the hundred miles to Cambridge in eighteen 
hours. At New Haven, Captain Benedict Arnold of the Governor's 
Guards threatened to break the lock of the town's ammunition 



store when the selectmen were slow in delivering powder and balls 
for his company. Altogether some twenty thousand militia con- 
verged on Cambridge and laid siege to Gage's four thousand 
soldiers in Boston. Part of the provincial force, under the command 
of Artemas Ward, stayed in Cambridge to stop any British move 
out from Boston through Charlestown or across the Charles at 
Cambridge. The remainder of the motley army, under Dr. John 
Thomas, went to Roxbury to shut off the British from the mainland 
at Boston Neck. 

The directorate, the Committee of Safety with Dr. Warren as 
its chairman, now had its army. But it had no illusions about it. 
The twenty thousand men besieging Boston on April twentieth 
had come in response to the most outrageous accounts of British 
predacity, and it is of the nature of rumors of wickedness that the 
wickedness turns out to be something less than fiendish. No one 
could hope to keep up a sufficient fire of indignation to prevail 
upon the twenty thousand militia to think of nothing else but 
evening scores with the British particularly when in due course 
it would have to be known that the British had come out at the 
short end of the score anyhow. And most of the twenty thousand 
had not marched to Boston to join an army, in any case. They 
had left their fields and shops and studies to put a stop to a 
specific act of British arrogance. They had brought no clothes or 
food with them, had made no arrangements for the discharge of 
their responsibilities at home, and had conceived of their under- 
taking as the carrying out of their individual decisions to "go to 
meet the British." Many of them were magnificently unfit for army 
campaigns and prolonged service. There were very old men like 
Deacon Haynes, young men who were little more than boys, 
married men with large families who must be supported, even 
clergymen who had to get back to their meetinghouses by the next 

Dr. Warren was fully aware that many of this varied throng, 
whom he was already having trouble feeding, would depart as 



spontaneously as they had come, most of them without even 
giving any notice of their intention. Milling around Cambridge, 
they were almost wholly unorganized. Some, of course, had a com- 
pany structure, with their elected officers to whom they gave no 
real binding authority. Others came in little groups of individuals, 
every man his own general, and they would stay as long as they saw 
fit and then go home again. Some were unarmed, there to see what 
all the excitement was about or else to carry voluntary food 
offerings to fighting men from their home towns. "There were also 
in the aforesaid Company a number of aged men, and some unable 
to bear arms, who rode to Cambridge on the day of alarm 
and the day following to carry provision to those who stood in 
need. . . . 9517 When Dr. Warren's Committee of Safety concluded 
that the strategy would be to keep the British locked up in Boston, 
some militia officers simply refused to go along with the decision, 
among them Timothy Pickering, who was so reluctant the day 
before to march his Salem men all the way to the Charles. "To me 
the idea was new and unexpected," he wrote. "I expressed the 
opinion which at the moment occurred to me that the hostilities 
of the preceding day did not render a civil war inevitable : That 
a negotiation with General Gage might probably effect a present 
compromise and therefore that the immediate formation of an 
army did not appear to me to be necessary." 18 Pickering went 
home, and so did most of his men. 

From all this, Warren saw that he must first get the militia that 
Benjamin Thompson, one of Gage's informers, called "that mass 
of confusion" 19 under some sort of authority, then be sure that 
they could be counted upon to stay in service, and finally eliminate 
those who should or could not undertake unlimited military duties. 
He moved swiftly to accomplish all three at a meeting of the 
Committee of Safety on April twenty-first. 

The first two, acknowledgment of authority and duration of 
service, were taken care of by the adoption of a form of enlistment: 
"I, A.B., do hereby solemnly engage and enlist myself as a soldier in 



the Massachusetts service, from the day of my enlistment to the 
last day of December next, unless the service should admit of a 
discharge of a part or the whole sooner, which shall be at the 
discretion of the Committee of Safety; and I hereby promise to 
submit myself to all the orders and regulations of the Army, and 
faithfully to observe and obey all such orders as I shall receive 
from any superior officer." 20 The third of Warren's objectives, 
culling a manageable force from the mass teeming around Cam- 
bridge, was dealt with in the Committee's next action. Since Gage's 
force was only about four thousand and it was virtually immobi- 
lized by the geography of Boston, Warren concluded that a pro- 
vincial force of eight thousand would be adequate for the im- 
mediate job of keeping the British isolated on the peninsula. This 
meant that he needed little more than a third of the men who 
responded to the Lexington alarm. And he took care that the 
Committee's resolution creating the army left room for qualitative 
as well as quantitative criteria: "Resolved, that there be immedi- 
ately enlisted, out of the Massachusetts Forces, eight thousand 
eff ective men, to be formed into Companies, to consist of a Cap- 
tain, one Lieutenant, one Ensign, four Sergeants, one Fifer, one 
Drummer, and seventy rank and file; nine Companies to form a 
Regiment, to be commanded by a Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel 
and Major; each Regiment to be composed of men suitable for the 
service, which shall be determined by a Muster-Master or Muster- 
Masters, to be appointed for that purpose. Said officers and men to 
continue in the service of the Province for the space of seven 
months from the time of enlistment, unless the safety of the Prov- 
ince will admit of their being discharged sooner; the Army to be 
under proper rules and regulations." 21 

This was a sensible and manageable plan. But as soon as it 
reached the officers of the old companies milling around outside 
the Committee doors, there were complaints that the size of the 
companies proposed was too big, the obvious result being that many 
present officers would have to be reduced in rank. With quick 



adaptability, the Committee immediately reduced the size of the 
new companies to fifty men and avoided squabbling. General 
Ward created a council of war, doled out assignments to officers, 
deployed his men; and Samuel Adams, poking along the highways 
of western Massachusetts toward Philadelphia with John Hancock, 
at last had a provincial army to break down the decade-old barrier 
between the idea and the reality of organized forcible resistance 
to Great Britain. 


On Saturday, April twenty-second, the Provincial Congress, 
parent body and source of authority of the Committee of Safety, 
met at Concord and then adjourned to Watertown in order to be 
near the fledgling army. In the absence of Hancock, Dr. Warren 
was unanimously elected its president, and he proceeded to cope 
with problems that he had been unable to attend during the short, 
harried sessions of the Committee of Safety. First among these was 
the next stage of the propaganda war. 

Before the guns of Earl Percy's retreat were silenced, the three 
uses of the battle of Lexington were joyously apparent to the 
provincial leadership : as an immediate and unarguable call for a 
provincial army; as a dramatic event behind which to consolidate 
a public opinion that had been wavering and indifferent; and, 
finally, as an act of aggressive violence by British troops that would 
divide the English in the home country on support of the policies 
of the Crown and the North ministry. Through the Committee of 
Safety, within forty-eight hours of the battle, Dr. Warren had 
promptly and efficiently brought about the provincial army. He 
moved now, through the Provincial Congress, to make the most 
of the propaganda uses of the battle. 

This involved innovations, in the political history of wars, of 
which Dr. Warren and his colleagues were fully capable. Never 
before had wars required a direct verdict of the people for their 



prosecution. Never had a war been started without even a govern- 
ment to direct it. Never had it been of such urgent importance to 
get the case before a people. For this the vague communique 
and the wild rumors were totally inadequate useful as they had 
proved to be for more immediate purposes. What was needed was 
foolproof documentation that the colonists were innocent but 
honorable victims, the King's troops ruthless and unreasoning 
aggressors. And all this had to be done before the British, saddled 
with the red tape of formal militarism, could get their version of 
the affair to the people. Accordingly, at its afternoon session on 
April twenty-second the Congress appointed a committee of nine 
to take depositions, "from which a full account of the transactions 
of the troops under General Gage, in their route to and from 
Concord, &c., on Wednesday last, may be collected." 22 The next 
day it appointed a committee to construct an official narrative of 
the event. 

On April twenty-third, the Sunday following Wednesday's 
battle, the congressional committee went to Lexington and spent 
three days in taking depositions from the participants in the 
battle, supplementing them with other accounts from Concord, 
civilians on the line of retreat, and British captives. In all, the 
Committee interviewed ninety-seven people in three days and got 
signed and sworn statements from all of them in twenty-one 
documents. They took a corps of justices of the peace with them to 
administer the oaths to the deponents and then got a notary 
public to certify the good faith of the justices of the peace. The 
signatories to the individual depositions varied from single de- 
ponents, like Captain Parker, to groups of four to over thirty. 
The gist of all the depositions was that not a provincial at either 
Lexington or Concord fired until the British had fired first. This 
point was not omitted from a single deposition, and it was obviously 
an instruction of the Committee of the Congress to the deponents 
to be specific on this point, since several of the deponents had not 
in fact been in a position to know who fired first. 



The committee sent to Concord and to Medf ord to get deposi- 
tions from three British captives; John Bateman, a private of the 
Fifty-second Regiment, James Harr, a private of the Fourth 
(Bang's Own) Regiment, and Lieutenant Edward Thornton 
Gould, also of The Kong's Own. The committee apparently felt 
that testimony from men of the British army would lend weight 
and added authority to the provincial depositions. It was, indeed, 
a good thought and had its effect. Bateman was an eagerly satisfy- 
ing deponent. His company was not in the van of the march on 
Lexington Common, and from his position down the road toward 
Boston not only distance but the great bulk of the meetinghouse 
would have prevented him from seeing who fired first or, until the 
gunsmoke rose, if anyone fired at all. Nevertheless, Bateman was 
the most positive of witnesses: ". . . being nigh the meetinghouse 
in said Lexington, there was a small party of men gathered to- 
gether in that place when our troops marched by, and I testify and 
declare, that I heard the word of command given to the troops to 
fire, and some of said troops did fire, and I saw one of said small 
party lay dead on the ground nigh said meetinghouse, and I 
testify that I never heard any of the inhabitants so much as fire one 
gun on said troops." 23 James Marr and Lieutenant Gould of The 
King's Own were also in the rear at Lexington and claimed no 
knowledge of who fired first, but they both testified that the British 
fired first as the minutemen approached the North Bridge at 

Except for the uncommonly good eyesight of all ninety-seven 
deponents in observing, in the pale light of dawn from odd 
positions and amid the turmoil of dashing horses, rushing soldiers 
and widely scattered provincial militia and spectators, exactly 
where the first shot came from, the twenty-one depositions were 
brief, crisp, economic in detail, and without dramatic accusations. 
No atrocities were charged to the British; and some were careful 
to limit the destruction of houses and property by the troops, al- 
though others claimed, at the same time, rather vaguely that they 



"committed damage, more or less, to almost every house from 
Concord to Charlestown." 24 The depositions were delivered to the 
Congress by the committee on April twenty-sixth, and the official 
narrative was meanwhile composed by another committee. 

The narrative was far more emotional and accusatory than the 
depositions, in places somewhat childish in the innocence at- 
tributed to the provincials and almost fantastic in its version of the 
retreat. The chairman of the committee appointed to compose 
the narrative had reason to show ardor in the patriot's cause. He 
was Dr. Benjamin Church, the same member of the Congress 
who had been selling Gage its secrets, including the location of the 
colonial munitions, right up until the eve of the march to Concord. 
Church, on the day after the battle, was met in Cambridge by 
Paul Revere, to whom it seemed that Church was excessively 
anxious to demonstrate his patriotism. "The day after the Battle 
of Lexington, I met him in Cambridge, when he showed me 
some blood on his stocking, which he said spirted on him from a 
man who was killed near him, as he was urging the Militia on." 25 
Then in his fortieth year, Church was dependent upon the moneys 
paid him by General Gage as an informer. With the outbreak of 
hostilities he was in all the more advantageous position as a 
member of both the Congress and war committees to command 
heavy prices for the information he sold. Dr. Church was ap- 
pointed to the narrative committee at the session of Congress on 
Sunday, April twenty-third. On the previous Friday, just two days 
after the battle, he was sitting with the Committee of Safety at 
Cambridge, when he startled Dr. Warren by announcing his 
intention to go into Boston the next day. Dr. Church's declaration 
"set them all a staring. Dr. Warren replied, 'Are you serious, Dr. 
Church? They will hang you if they catch you in Boston!* He 
replied, *I am serious and determined to go at all adventures/ " 26 

So Dr. Church spent aU day Saturday and part of Sunday in 
Boston, Warren and the Committee of Safety ordering him to 
bring medicine back for the wounded as long as he was determined 



to go. Church told the suspicious Revere, when he got back, that 
he was taken prisoner and sent to Gage's headquarters, but Revere 
later talked to Deacon Caleb Davis, of Boston, who happened to 
see Church emerge from Gage's house that morning in amiable 
and friendly conversation with the General, "like persons who had 
been long acquainted." Church got back from his traitorous visit 
in time to accept the appointment to the committee to write the 
official narrative. 

Not even the most fanatical of those who despised the British 
and advanced the colonial cause were quite capable of Church's 
condemnation of the British and admiration of the childlike 
Americans that he invented. Fresh from Gage's headquarters, he 
presided over the composing of the official American report to 
the people of the colonies : 

"On the nineteenth day of April, one thousand seven hundred 
and seventy- five, a day to be remembered by dl Americans of the 
present generation, and which ought, and doubtless will be handed 
down to ages yet unborn, the troops of Britain, unprovoked, shed 
the blood of sundry of the loyal American subjects of the British 
king in the field of Lexington. Early in the morning of said day, 
a detachment of the forces under General Gage, stationed at 
Boston, attacked a small party of the inhabitants of Lexington 
and some other towns adjacent, the detachment consisting of about 
nine hundred men, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Smith: 
The inhabitants of Lexington and the other towns were about one 
hundred, some with and some without firearms, who had collected 
upon information that the detachment had secretly marched from 
Boston the preceding night, and landed on Phipps*s Farm in 
Cambridge, and were proceeding on their way with a brisk pace 
towards Concord, as the inhabitants supposed, to take or destroy 
a quantity of stores deposited there for the use of the colony; sundry 
peaceable inhabitants having the same night been taken, held by 
force, and otherwise abused on the road, by some officers of General 



Gage's army, which earned a just alarm and a suspicion that some 
fatal design was immediately to be put into execution against 
them. This small party of the inhabitants were so far from being 
disposed to commit hostilities against the troops of their sovereign, 
that unless attacked, they were determined to be peaceable spec- 
tators of this extraordinary movement; immediately on the ap- 
proach of Colonel Smith with the detachment under his command, 
they dispersed; but the detachment, seeming to thirst for blood, 
wantonly rushed on, and first began the hostile scene by firing on 
this small party, by which they killed eight men on the spot and 
wounded several others before any guns were fired upon the troops 
by our men. Not content with this effusion of blood, as if malice 
had occupied their whole souls, they continued the fire, until all 
of this small party who escaped the dismal carnage were out of the 
reach of their fire. Colonel Smith, with the detachment, then pro- 
ceeded to Concord, where a part of this detachment again made 
the first fire upon some of the inhabitants of Concord and the 
adjacent towns, who were collected upon a bridge at this just 
alarm, and killed two of them and wounded several others, before 
any of the provincials there had done one hostile act. Then the 
provincials, roused with zeal for the liberties of their country, 
finding life and every thing dear and valuable at stake, assumed 
their native valor and returned the fire, and the engagement on 
both sides began. Soon after the British troops returned towards 
Charlestown, having first committed violence and waste on public 
and private property, and on their retreat was joined by another 
detachment of General Gage's troops, consisting of about a thou- 
sand men, under the command of Earl Percy, who continued the 
retreat; the engagement lasted through the day; and many were 
killed and wounded on each side, though the loss on the part of the 
British troops far exceeded that of the provincials. The devastation 
committed by the British troops on their retreat, the whole of the 
way from Concord to Charlestown, is almost beyond description; 
such as plundering and burning of dwelling-houses and other 



buildings, driving into the street women in child-bed, killing old 
men in their houses unarmed. Such scenes of desolation would 
be a reproach to the perpetrators, even if committed by the most 
barbarous nations, how much more when done by Britons famed 
for humanity and tenderness: And all this because these colonies 
will not submit to the iron yoke of arbitrary power / J>27 

This version of the battle by the Church committee was ob- 
viously written while the committee on depositions was still in 
Lexington, and it was ready for release with the depositions, none 
of which were quoted in the narrative. Church had the details of 
the British force very clear none of the deponents did and he 
also knew that Smith was in command and exactly where Phipps' 
Farm his force had debarked at Cambridge. And if he knew 
too much about the British, he also protested too much on behalf of 
the Americans. 

Nowhere in the narrative is there any reference to militia or 
minutemen or any military organization or military action at all. 
The provincials are all "a small party of the inhabitants . . . some 
with and some without fire-arms," or just "peaceable spectators," 
or "inhabitants . . . collected at the bridge." There is no mention 
of Captain Parker's company lined up in ranks on Lexington 
Common, or the Concord minutemen parading up the Lexington 
road with drum and fife "to meet the British," or those four 
hundred militia marching down the hill to force the North Bridge 
held perilously by Captain Parsons' thirty-five regulars. Not until 
the provincials "assumed their native valor" on the British retreat 
is there any suggestion that this was a tough breed of men not 
much inclined to be peaceable spectators. 

But if Church's narrative conceded the provincials some belliger- 
ence on the retreat, it had nothing but contempt for the British, 
who, according to this version, were occupied not in saving their 
own Eves under somewhat difficult circumstances but in "the burn- 
ing of dwelling-houses and other buildings, driving into the street 



women in child-bed, killing old men in their houses unarmed." 
Actually, in some fifty miles of marching, half of it a running 
battle, the British burned three houses, according to the returns 
made to the Provincial Congress 28 all three at the Lexington 
staging area where Lord Percy was reforming the British forces for 
the retreat to Charlestown. The houses had been evacuated and 
seemed to have been burned reluctantly by Percy after Smith and 
Pitcaim had told him how the provincials used the houses as 
fortresses all along the route of the march. There was, of course, 
some looting by the British flankers who searched the houses for 
snipers, but again the damage returns make it very small. The 
British troops were near exhaustion by then and under constant 
fire, and they had neither the time to do much selective looting 
nor the strength to carry unnecessary burdens as they stumbled to 
the protection of the Charlestown hills, In any case, the com- 
mittee of the Provincial Congress "appointed to estimate the dam- 
ages done at Cambridge, Lexington and Concord" reported that 
the total, including the three houses burned at Lexington, 
amounted to a little over 3000, and most of the inhabitants 
made very generous estimates of the value of such casualties as 
"two large moose skins" and "one lawn apron." 29 

The charge of "driving into the street women in child-bed" was 
one of the most popular features of the Church narrative. When 
Dr. Warren edited and rewrote it for the consumption of the 
English in an open letter "To The Inhabitants of Great Britain" 
and when the American newspapers rewrote it, the women's plight 
was rendered even more pitiable by describing them as "naked," 
although why good Massachusetts mothers should be lying around 
naked on a mid-April afternoon is not apparent. This example 
of British inhumanity was not to be found in any of the depositions 
secured by the Congress ; but after it was reported in the narrative, 
a deposition was sought from Hannah Adams, the wife of Joseph 
Adams, the Cambridge deacon who had fled from his house and 
left his wife and six children unprotected because he was afraid 



that he would be killed. The Adams house was in Cambridge in 
an area where the British retreat underwent the heaviest sniper 
fire of the entire day. According to Hannah Adams' own account, 
the British flank infantrymen searching the house said, "We will 
not hurt the woman if she will go out of the house, but we will 
surely burn it." 30 The infantrymen were, of course, under orders 
to burn houses protecting snipers, and they had just seen the 
deacon who was a sniper, for all they knew dart from the 
house to the Reverend Samuel Cooke's barn. If Mrs. Adams was 
bedded from childbirth, it was an unusually long accouchement; 
the Cambridge vital records show that the baby was born nineteen 
days earlier. 31 And even though it was her tenth child and she was 
forty-five, Mrs. Adams was apparently a rugged woman, living 
to the good age of seventy-three. In any case, Mrs. Adams was 
actually fully dressed when the soldiers came to her house; and 
she had two daughters, Rebecca, twenty-two, and Susanna, seven- 
teen, helping her and the child, according to her daughter's 
account in later years. 32 She went to an outer building until the 
troops left and then went back into the house again. This was the 
only case in which, according to Dr. Warren's information to the 
English people, "women in child-bed were driven by the soldiery 
naked in the streets." 83 

The charge with regard to old men was also unsubstantiated 
by any of the depositions taken by the committee. Most of the old 
men of the day showed astonishing agility in chasing the British, 
were faster at loading and firing than their younger fellows, and, 
like old Samuel Whittemore of Cambridge, displayed admirable 
surviving powers even after being left for dead. So once more the 
provincials sought substantiation of the charges after they were 
made. The "old men" turned out not to have been very old and 
not to have been "in their houses unarmed." They were Jason 
Winship, forty-three, and Jabez Wyman, thirty-nine, the jovial 
brothers-in-law, who sat drinking in Benjamin Cooper's tavern, 
insisting that there was time for just one more. There had been 



intense provincial firing from the environs of the Cooper Tavern, 
when the British, according to the delayed deposition of the 
Coopers, "entered the house, where we and two aged gentlemen 
were all unarmed. We escaped for our lives into the cellar. The 
two aged gentlemen were immediately, most barbarously and in- 
humanly murdered by them." A local clergyman, appraising this 
atrocity, said that "both died like fools." 34 But they were the only 
"aged" unarmed men slain. 

Thus, the official narrative went out to the province, the 
colonies, Great Britain, and the world. Couriers, in a chain oper- 
ation with fresh men and horses ready at key points, carried the 
news down the Atlantic coast to Georgia. The newspapers, all 
of them weeklies, published their stories, borrowing liberally from 
each other and embroidering the apocryphal details of atrocities. 
On the Monday after the battle, accounts were in the Connecticut 
and New York papers; on Wednesday, in the Pennsylvania papers; 
on Thursday, in those of Maryland; on Saturday, in Dixon and 
Hunter's Virginia Gazette; and on through the Carolinas, until the 
news reached the Georgia Gazette in. Savannah. Many of the 
papers, unwilling to wait for their weekly publication date, got 
out handbills as soon as the news was received. Using inverted rules 
to make heavy black borders, decorated with rows of black coffins 
to represent the dead and bearing such headlines as "Bloody 
Butchery by the British Troops/' 35 the press accounts, based 
upon the official narrative, wiped out overnight all the issues of the 
long debate on taxation and representation. The voices of the 
orators were drowned out by the outraged cries of the propagan- 
dists repeated from the press in appeals to the emotions. Vast 
indignation over a professional soldiery turned loose to murder 
and ravage was fed by the quick, inevitable multiplication of the 
charges of British wickedness. Massachusetts, with its population 
exclusively made up of unarmed old men and of women in the 
midst of childbirth, became the rallying cry of a "There but for 
the grace of God go you" sort of barrage from the whole Whig 



press. IsaiaJi Thomas, who had moved Ms Massachusetts Spy press 
out of Boston across the Charles on the Sunday night before the 
battle, set up shop in Worcester and fired a broadside that was 
reprinted in a score of papers thoughout the colonies: "AMER- 
ICANS ! forever bear in mind the BATTLE OF LEXINGTON I 
where British Troops, unmolested and unprovoked, wantonly 
and in a most inhuman manner fired upon and killed a number 
of our countrymen, then robbed them of their provisions, ran- 
sacked, plundered and burned their houses! Nor could the tears 
of defenceless women, some of whom were in the pains of child- 
birth, and cries of helpless babes, nor the prayers of old age, 
confined to beds of sickness, appease their thirst for blood ! or 
divert them from their DESIGN of MURDER and ROB- 
BERY!" 88 And in New York, where a throng marched on the 
City Hall to demand the keys to the armory when they heard the 
news, the exhortation went out to "Let every inhabitant consider 
what he is likely to suffer if he falls into the hands of such cruel and 
merciless wretches." 87 

Here was the real victory of Lexington. The little town, some- 
what removed from affairs, that had gone about its quiet business 
for a century and a half, was suddenly a symbol that united an 
irresolute people in a spirit of revolt that was to end only with 
independence. For the propaganda uses made of Lexington were 
carried out with such skill that in the wars of the future, which 
were impossible to carry on without the consent and support of 
the people, the same essential pattern was followed. 


Even as he was presiding over this war of propaganda, Dr. 
Joseph Warren held a contained view of the outbreak of hostilities, 
and he saw it still as a civil war loyal citizens 5 fighting an usurpa- 
tory government. In his mind, it was of paramount importance 
that his fellow subjects in Great Britain have the provincial version 



of the beginning of hostilities before the routine, military man's 
report of Gage got there. On April twenty-sixth, one week after 
the battle, after he had all the depositions at hand, he himself wrote 
the account that went to the British people, together with copies 
of the depositions. In it he made an outright appeal to His 
Majesty's subjects in England to make common cause with their 
brothers in the colonies. He followed a brief account of the nine- 
teenth and its events with a quiet overture to the bonds that stiU 
united them: 

"We cannot think that the honour, wisdom and valour of Britons 
will suffer them longer to be inactive spectators of measures in 
which they themselves are so deeply interested; measures pursued 
in opposition to the solemn protests of many noble Lords, and 
expressed sense of conspicuous Commoners, whose knowledge 
and virtue have long characterized them as some of the greatest 
men in the Nation; measures executing contrary to the interest, 
Petitions and Resolves of many large, respectable and opulent 
Counties, Cities and Boroughs, in Great Britain; measures highly 
incompatible with justice, but still pursued with a specious pretence 
of easing the nation of its burden; measures which, if successful, 
must end in the ruin and slavery of Britain, as well as the persecuted 
American colonies. 

"We sincerely hope that the great Sovereign of the Universe, 
who hath so often appeared for the English nation, will support 
you in very rational and manly exertion with these Colonies, for 
saving it from ruin; and that in a constitutional connection with 
the Mother Country, we shall soon be altogether a free and happy 
people. 5338 

It was, of course, Warren's purpose to hinder the North ministry 
in its conduct of a war three thousand miles from home, particu- 
larly in the pressing problems of raising moneys from domestic 
revenues to pay for it and men to cross the seas to fight it. This 
could be, in his judgment, a most unpopular war among Britons, 
the more so if they thought it unjust. 



In Its determination to get the provincial version of the affair to 
England first, the Provincial Congress commissioned a schooner 
belonging to a Salem merchant, Richard Derby, and commanded 
by his son, John, to take copies of the Salem Gazette, the official 
narrative letter, the depositions, and letters of instructions to the 
American agents, Arthur Lee and Benjamin Franklin. On April 
twenty-seventh, Dr. Warren gave Captain John Derby his orders 
from the Committee of Safety: 

Resolved: that Captain Derby be directed and he hereby is 
directed to make for Dublin or any other good port in Ireland, and 
from thence to cross to Scotland or England and hasten to London. 
This direction is given that so he may escape all enemies that may 
be in the chops of the channel to stop the communication of the 
Provincial intelligence to the agent. He will -forthwith deliver his 
papers to the agent on reaching London. 

/. Warren, CHAIRMAN 

P.S. You are to keep this order a profound secret from every person 
on earth?* 

Captain Derby sailed from Salem in his little schooner in the 
darkness of the night of April twenty-eighth. Four days earlier Gage 
had written sparse reports to the Viscount Barrington, the Secre- 
tary at War, and to Earl Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for 
the Colonies (he began the former with the fine understatement, 
"I have now nothing to trouble your lordship with, but of an 
affair that happened here on the igth instant . . ." 40 ). On the 
twenty-fourth Gage dispatched his reports on the cargo-laden, two 
hundred ton packet, Sukey. John Derby's assignment was to beat 
the packet to the British Isles. 

The Derby schooner, Quero, was a light, fast ship of sixty-two 
tons' burden, carrying a small crew and no cargo. The Derby 
family had been Salem shipmasters for over a century, and Captain 
John Derby, then thirty-four, was an outstandingly brilliant 



mariner. He made the westward crossing in four weeks, sailed 
Quero up a stream at the Isle of Wight, where she would be un- 
noticed, and then took a public transport to Southampton whence 
he made his way to London. Derby's boldness in ignoring Warren's 
directions to land in Ireland and in sailing under the noses of the 
British navy station at Portsmouth was almost arrogant, but by 
doing so he got to London on May twenty-eighth. He took his 
papers, with letters from Dr. Warren, to Arthur Lee. Copies of 
the narrative and depositions were made quickly and the originals 
placed in the custody of the Lord Mayor of London, the notorious 
radical, John Wilkes. Dr. Franklin, his mighty and persistent 
efforts at conciliation having come to nothing after ten years in 
London as the ambassador extraordinary of the colonies, had 
already sailed for home. 

On the day after Derby's arrival, the news of Lexington 
colonial version was all over England, where support of the 
North ministry and its colonial policy was far from unanimous. The 
American colonies were the richest possessions of the British, and 
the merchants of England viewed the drift toward war as suicidal. 
Political liberals were openly sympathetic with the colonial point 
of view on basic freedoms common to all Englishmen. The 
Quakers and other religious groups were opposed to war on any 
account. Moreover, England was badly prepared for any war. 
There was a heavy debt still from the war with France. Domestic 
taxes in Britain were already high. Recruitment for army service 
was sagging dangerously, particularly for overseas duty in the 
colonies. To this England the news of Lexington was of tremendous 
impact. The London Evening Post published an extra, reprinting 
the Salem Gazette's account and some of the depositions. The 
combined efforts of the American agent and the Lord Mayor 
resulted in an incredibly swift spreading of the news by bulletins 
and word of mouth. The former colonial governor, Thomas 
Hutchinson, went to Lord Dartmouth with the news. On the 
next day Dartmouth issued a government bulletin saying that the 



news was unofficial and the government had had no information 
from Gage. The f ollowing day Lee published a notice that if anyone 
doubted the accounts, original affidavits confirming the news could 
be seen at the Lord Mayor's mansion. The historian, Edward 
Gibbon, independent member of Parliament, wrote, "This looks 
serious and is indeed so, 3 ' but he saw hope in the fact that "the 
month of May is the time for sowing Indian corn" and the 
Americans would face famine if they interrupted the planting to 
fight a war. 41 The Reverend John Home, former vicar of New 
Brentford and founder of the Society for Supporting the Bill of 
Rights, issued an appeal for funds in which he repeated literally 
the claims of "our beloved American fellow-subjects, who, faithful 
to the character of Englishmen, preferring death to slavery, were, 
for that reason only, inhumanly murdered by the King's Troops 
at or near Lexington and Concord." He sent the money that he 
raised to Franklin and then was himself sent off to King's Bench 
Prison for his pains. 

The British Government, for two weeks, did nothing in the 
absence of any information from Gage. Efforts were made to find 
Derby and his ship. Derby flashed in and out of London as he 
pleased but disappeared completely when his presence was desired 
by Dartmouth. Agents were sent by the government to find his ship, 
and Southampton was searched thoroughly without result. Mean- 
while, the Salem Gazette story was gaining wider and wider circu- 
lation, the Gentleman 3 s Magazine even crediting the elusive Cap- 
tain Derby with bringing government dispatches. Dartmouth's 
undersecretary, John Pownall, took the story directly to the King 
at Kew, telling the monarch that he bore "bad news." The King 
spent his temper on Pownall, telling Dartmouth that the expression 
"bad news" left a lot to be desired and that all Pownall would 
ever be fit for was to carry out the orders of others. But the King's 
real frustration was better reflected in a rather pointless letter that 
Dartmouth at last dispatched to Gage pointless because Gage 
could not possibly get it for four or five weeks: ". . . It appears, 



upon the fullest inquiry, that this account, which is chiefly taken 
from a Salem newspaper, has been published by a Captain Derby, 
who arrived on Friday or Saturday at Southampton, in a small 
vessel in ballast, directly from Salem ; and from every circumstance 
relating to this person and the vessel, it is evident he was employed 
by the Provincial Congress to bring this account, which is plainly 
made up for the purpose of conveying every possible prejudice 
and misrepresentation of the truth . . 

"At the same time it is very much to be lamented that we have 
not some account from you of this transaction, which I do not 
mention from any supposition that you did not send the earliest 
intelligence of it, for we know from Derby that a vessel with dis- 
patches from you sailed four days before him. We expect the 
arrival of that vessel with great impatience. . . ," 42 

During the first weeks of June, as other ships from America 
brought oral confirmation, the ministry was shaken in its official 
view that maybe the whole story was fictitious. Yet it persisted in 
refusing to recognize the existence of the event and left the English 
people more and more convinced that their American fellow sub- 
jects had been done a great wrong an impression that the minis- 
try was never able to alter. 

Finally, two weeks after Derb/s Quero shipped up the Isle of 
Wight inlet, the heavily loaded Sukey, bearing General Gage's 
dispatches, got to Southampton. With regard to the security of his 
all but useless communications, Gage had gone to great pains. He 
had, of course, foreseen the probability that the provincials would 
want to get their own account of April nineteenth to London, but 
he credited them with little imagination or even, despite his 
experience of the night of the eighteenth, with much skill at 
espionage. Actually, the provincials knew that his dispatches were 
aboard Sukey when they commissioned Derby's schooner. Gage, 
however, assumed that they would attempt to communicate with 
the colony's agents in London by the same ship that he used. 
Accordingly, he sent orders to the captain to intercept all mail 



addressed to Franklin and Lee and send it back to Boston and to 
seize all "other suspicious letters, to be put under cover to the 
Secretary of State." 48 

After all the excitement aroused in England by the spirited 
account brought by Captain Derby, General Gage's account fell 
as a dull anticlimax that served only to confirm the former. The 
official dispatches consisted of Gage's account, which was an 
abrupt minimizing of the entire episode, the reports that he had 
from Earl Percy and Lieutenant Colonel Smith, and an account 
of the British losses. The press leaped with delight and disdain on 
some of the general's locutions, which sought to convey the im- 
pression that it was no defeat. The American accounts had given 
a vivid picture of the inglorious British retreat that had become 
familiar to every English newspaper reader. Of this, Gage said 
only that Lord Percy "brought the troops to Charlestown." 44 
Commented the London Press: "Whether they marched like mutes 
at a funeral, or whether they fled like the relations and friends of 
the present ministry ... is left entirely to the conjecture of the 
reader: though it should seem that a scattering fire, poured in 
upon a retreating enemy for fifteen miles together, would natur- 
ally, like goads applied to the sides of oxen, make them march off 
as fast as they could. 9 ' 45 

The British Government did nothing to improve the ridiculous 
situation in which it found itself so far as public opinion went. 
Dr. Warren's skilled handling of the news for British consumption 
had tended to unite the American people with the people of 
England. Not only in his letter to the inhabitants of Great Britain 
but in his covering letters to Lee and Franklin, he used such terms 
as "fellow subjects," "our royal Sovereign,' 3 and "the united efforts 
of both Englands." He carefully separated the English people from 
the troops and, with infinitely less justification, the King from his 
ministers. He credited the English with the character that would 
lead them to resist the same kind of military force in England that 
the farmers did in Massachusetts. But the North ministry, in re- 



leasing Gage's version of the affair, fell to the use of such terms as 
"rebels" and "viffians," and the British press laughed them out of 
a hearing. And so Great Britain moved into one of the most fateful 
wars in history with the enemy's achieving a triumphant public- 
opinion success right in the home realm. A month later the 
Secretary of State for the Colonies, writing rebuKngly to Gage, 
was still hurt by it: "On the tenth of last month in the morning, 
Lieutenant Nunn arrived at my office with your dispatch con- 
taining an account of the transactions on the igth of April, of 
which the public had before received intelligence by a schooner, 
to all appearance sent by the enemies of Government on purpose 
to make an impression here, by representing the affair between the 
King's troops and the rebel provincials in a Eght the most favorable 
to their own views. Their industry on this occasion had its 
effect . . ." 48 

During that spring of 1775 the minds of the King's ministers 
might well have been haunted by some words uttered in Commons, 
four weeks to the day before Lexington, by Edmund Burke, who 
loved justice but despised radicalism. In his last and most magnifi- 
cent plea for conciliation between England and her colonies, he 

"Three thousand miles of ocean lie between you and them. No 
contrivance can prevent the effect of this distance in weakening 
government. Seas roll, and months pass, between the order and 
the execution; and the want of a speedy explanation of a single 
point is enough to defeat a whole system. You have, indeed, winged 
ministers of vengeance, who carry their bolts in their pounces to 
the remotest verge of the sea; but there a power steps in that limits 
the arrogance of raging passions and furious elements, and says, 
'So far shalt thou go, and no farther.' " 47 




e l am imbarked on a wide ocean, boundless 
in its prospect and from whence, perhaps, no safe 
harbour is to be found." 


The battle of Concord and Lexington was still a provincial 
affair a matter between the people of the Massachusetts Bay 
province and the occupation troops of General Gage in Boston. 
There was no united authority on behalf of all the American 
colonies behind the variously assembling and departing companies 
of militia arriving at Cambridge to besiege Boston. The generals 
there were all creations of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress; 
if the men were to be housed, fed and supplied, they could turn only 
to the Massachusetts leaders; the entire diplomatic and military 
correspondence both with Gage in Boston and the ministry in 
London represented only the province of Massachusetts. It was 
the purpose of the Massachusetts delegation to the Second Con- 
tinental Congress to change all this to get the united Congress 
to adopt the provincial army, to stop any conciliation efforts 
by the other colonies, to make the cause of Massachusetts the 
cause of all the colonies, and to make this clear to the whole 
civilized world. 



This was an ambitious set of objectives, and without Lexington 
it would have been utterly impossible. In the martyrs of Lexington, 
however, the Massachusetts delegation had a force behind them 
stronger than oratory or prophecies, and one that so stirred the 
people of the other colonies that their delegates would have no 
alternative to supporting Massachusetts. But it would not come 
without further internal struggle within the Congress. "America 
is a great unwieldy body/ 5 John Adams said. "Its progress must 
be slow. It is like a large fleet sailing under convoy. The fleetest 
sailors must wait for the dullest and slowest. Like a coach and six, 
the swiftest horses must be slackened, and the slowest quickened, 
that all may keep an even pace." 2 

The Second Continental Congress was to meet in Philadelphia 
on May tenth. John Adams, before leaving for the sessions, went 
to Cambridge to visit the New England militia. "There was great 
confusion and much distress," he wrote in his diary. "Artillery, 
arms, clothing were wanting, and a sufficient supply of provisions 
not easily obtained. Neither the officers nor men, however, wanted 
spirits or resolution." 3 From Cambridge, Adams followed the 
route of the British expedition to Lexington, stopping to talk to the 
inhabitants along the way about the details of the action of April 
nineteenth. "These were not calculated to diminish my ardor in 
the cause; they, on the contrary, convinced me that the die was 
cast, the Rubicon passed. . . ." 4 The next day, beset with a fever, 
he set out for Philadelphia, somewhat disgusted with himself be- 
cause he had to ride in a sulky, attended by a servant, instead 
of riding the three hundred miles on horseback as he had intended. 

Two of the remaining four Massachusetts delegates had already 
left for Philadelphia: Thomas Gushing, of Boston, and Robert 
Treat Paine, of Taunton. The other two, Samuel Adams and 
John Hancock, were still traveling around central Massachusetts 
in tandem. They had spent the night of April twentieth, the day 
after the battle, in the Wyman house at Billerica, and went back 
to Woburn the next day to get Dorothy Quincy and Aunt Lydia 



Hancock, who had been left there overnight. Their movements for 
the next three days are lost to history. Apparently, they dodged 
around Middlesex and Worcester counties and finally turned up 
in the town of Worcester on Monday, April twenty-fourth. 

Hancock was infuriated because there was no committee to 
welcome them there, no escort to accompany them on the first 
stage of their journey, and no sign of the other three delegates to 
the Continental Congress. He accordingly sat down and wrote a 
blistering letter "to the Gentlemen Committee of Safety" meeting 
with the Provincial Congress at Watertown and occupied with 
far more urgent problems than Hancock's pride. "Where is Mr. 
Gushing? Are Mr. Paine and Mr. John Adams to be with us? What 
are we to depend upon? We travel rather as deserters, which I will 
not submit to. . . ," 5 For three days they waited in Worcester 
for an escort for Hancock, while Adams pondered his beloved 
projects of moving the Continental Congress down the road toward 
independence and getting the other colonies to join the rebellion. 
Meanwhile, Dorothy Quincy and Aunt Lydia turned up again, 
much to Samuel Adams' distress, and all four left for New York 
and Philadelphia, by way of Hartford, on April twenty-seventh, 
a week and a day after the battle of Lexington. 

At Hartford, Hancock and Adams stopped to confer with 
Governor Trumbull of Connecticut. Samuel Adams was convinced 
that the first strategy of the British would be to split the colonies by 
sending an army down through Lake Champlain, Lake George, 
and the Hudson River to New York City, isolating New England 
from the West and the South. Accordingly, long before Lexington 
he had dispatched a member of the Provincial Congress, John 
Brown, a Pittsfield lawyer, to Canada to get information on 
Canadian public opinion and the state of the old forts garrisoned 
since the end of the French War. Three weeks before Lexington, 
Brown reported that, in his judgment, the fort at Ticonderoga 
"must be seized as soon as possible, should hostilities be committed 
by the king's troops." 6 (On the day of Lexington, Gage wrote to 



Guy Carleton, the British commander in Canada, directing him 
to dispatch the Seventh Regiment to protect Ticonderoga; this 
letter, of course, reached Carleton too late. ) Adams now consulted 
with Trumbull, for the Massachusetts Committee of Safety had 
appointed Benedict Arnold of Connecticut to go and seize Fort 
Ticonderoga a chore which Adams' agent. Brown, had already 
entrusted to a local group from the New Hampshire Grants who 
called themselves the Green Mountain Boys. This semi-outlaw 
band had been organized under Ethan Allen to harass the New 
York colony in its controversy with New Hampshire over the 
territory that is now Vermont. The Hartford Committee of Safety 
had added to the confusion by commissioning the taking of Ti- 
conderoga to yet a third man, Colonel Samuel Parsons. There was 
nothing at this late date that Trumbull, Adams, and Hancock 
could do to straighten out all this complexity, but they talked 
eagerly of the forty-three cannon, fourteen mortars, and two 
howitzers at Ticonderoga and how precious their capture would 
be to the patriot cause. 

Even as they talked, Arnold was on his way to Vermont with his 
commission as colonel and his authorization to enlist four hundred 
men for his expedition. Without stopping to enlist, he went with a 
servant directly to Castleton, where Ethan Allen and his Green 
Mountain Boys were gathered. There followed a dispute between 
Arnold and Allen on the command of the expedition, Arnold 
having his papers and Allen having the men. They settled the 
dispute by agreeing to storm Ticonderoga side by side at the head 
of their columns. This they did, with two boatloads of eighty-three 
men altogether, on May ninth. The British had let the fort fall 
apart after the French War, with great breaches in its walls; and 
it was garrisoned by only forty-two men, twenty of whom were 
unfit for unlimited duty. When Allen and Arnold arrived, carefully 
in step side by side, they were all asleep except the sentry, who 
simply ran away. Arnold tried to act with military dignity once 
inside the fort, but Allen was having none of that; he brandished 


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Newspaper broadsides, such as this from the Salem Gazette, 
dramatized the Lexington battle and were effectively distrib- 
uted as propaganda both in the colonies and in Great Britain, 


John Adams- (1735-1826), a thirty-nine-year-old Braintree 
lawyer when the Revolution broke out, was the leading force in 
the Second Continental Congress and brought about the ap- 
pointment of Washington as commander in chief. MUSEUM OF 


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his sword over his head and kept shouting at the door of the 
commanding officer's quarters: "Come out, you old rat" 7 Thus, 
on the day before the Second Continental Congress met, the first 
offensive American action succeeded at a remote spot in the 
wilderness on Lake George. 

Meanwhile, after leaving Hartford, the Hancock party pro- 
ceeded to Fairfield, where Dorothy Quincy and Aunt Lydia were 
installed in the mansion of Hancock's friend, Thaddeus Burr, 
high sheriff of Fairfield County. Hancock and Adams continued on 
to New York, where they met their fellow delegates, John Adams, 
Gushing, and Paine, at King's Bridge, just north of the city. Han- 
cock's spirits soared at their triumphant entry into New York. 

It was midafternoon of Saturday, May sixth. Hancock and 
Adams the former slender and elegant and somewhat delicate 
for his thirty-eight years and the latter shaking with his palsy and 
seedy and old beyond his fifty-two years rode ahead in Hancock's 
fine phaeton. Behind them was John Adams, the intellectual 
young lawyer, thirty-nine and serious, sober, and responsible, 
sharing his chaise with his fellow delegate, the Boston merchant, 
Thomas Gushing, a mild man who still hoped that strong economic 
action by the colonies could prevent severance from England. The 
fifth Massachusetts delegate, Robert Treat Paine, the small-town 
lawyer from Taunton, who had appeared for the prosecution 
against John Adams at the trial of the Boston Massacre soldiers, 
rode alone behind. Word of Lexington had, of course, preceded the 
delegates to New York, and the latter colony, which previously 
had not even chosen delegates to the Continental Congress, was 
ready with a spectacular reception for the heroic delegation from 

As soon as word of the approach of the delegates reached New 
York, thousands of people rode out of the town in their carriages 
and on horseback to meet them. Three miles from the town bound- 
ary a battalion of eight hundred uniformed militia arrived to es- 
cort them with bayonets fixed and a great band of musicians 



blaring forth. Thousands of spectators tramped through the dirt 
roads to see the great men, and hundreds of church bells in New 
York rang joyously. "You can easier fancy than I describe the 
amazing concourse of people," a Connecticut delegate wrote to 
his wife: "I believe well nigh every open carriage in the city, and 
thousands on foot trudging and sweating through the dirt. At the 
Fresh Water, the battalion halted, and we again passed their front 
and received a second salute from the left, and were received by 
our friends, the delegates of the city. 3 ' 8 

As the procession reached the city proper, the crowds mounted 
in size and noisy enthusiasm. "The doors, the windows, the stoops, 
the roofs of the piazzas, were loaded with all ranks, ages and sexes; 
in short, I feared every moment lest someone would be crushed to 
death; but no accident. A little dispute arose as we came near 
the town the populace insisting on taking out our horses and 
drawing the carriages by hand." 9 

In his diary John Adams, deeply concerned with the problems 
that faced Massachusetts in the new session of the Continental 
Congress, dismissed this turbulent reception in a sentence: "At 
Kings Bridge we were met by a great number of gentlemen in 
carriages and on horseback, and all the way their numbers in- 
creased, till I thought the whole city was come out to meet us." 10 
And that was all on the subject from John Adams, Hancock, how- 
ever, was beside himself with vanity and excitement, and wrote an 
astonishing letter to Dorothy Quincy in Fairfield, in which he took 
the view that the reception was meant solely for him and that it 
was only his carriage that the populace sought to pull by hand. He 
even ignored the fact that the father of the Revolution, Samuel 
Adams, sat dourly beside him in the phaeton. "I dined and then 
set out in the procession for New York," Hancock wrote. "The 
carriage of your humble servant of course being first in the pro- 
cession. When we arrived within three miles of the City, we were 
met by the grenadier company and regiment of the city militia 
under arms, gentlemen in carriages and on horseback and many 



thousands of persons on foot, the roads filled with people, and the 
greatest cloud of dust I ever saw. In this situation, we entered the 
city, and passing through the principal streets of New York amidst 
the acclamations of thousands were set down at Mr. Fraunces's. 
After entering the house, three huzzas were given, and the people 
by degrees dispersed. 

"When I got within a mile of the city my carriage was stopped, 
and persons appearing with proper harnesses insisted upon taking 
out my horses and dragging me into and through the city, a 
circumstance I would not have had taken place upon any con- 
sideration, not being fond of such parade. 

"I begged and entreated that they would suspend the design 
and asked it as a favor, and the matter subsided, but when I got to 
the entrance of the city and the numbers of spectators increased to 
perhaps seven thousand or more, they declared they would have 
the horses out and drag me through the city. I repeated my 
request, and I was obliged to apply to the leading gentleman in the 
procession to intercede with them not to carry their designs into 
execution, as it was very disagreeable to me. They were at last 
prevailed upon, and I proceeded. I was much obliged to them for 
their good wishes and opinion, in short no person could possibly 
be more noticed than myself." 11 

In the self-adulating letter, which continues for six more para- 
graphs, there is not a word of the significance of the reception : the 
effect of the news of Lexington on the colony most loyal to the 
Grown and its wholly new embracement of the patriot cause. It 
is impossible to escape the impression that not Hancock but his 
austere carriage mate, Samuel Adams, prevented the hauling of 
the carriage by the citizens of New York. "If you wish to be 
gratified with so humiliating a spectacle, I will get out and walk, 
for I will not countenance an act by which my fellow citizens will 
degrade themselves into beasts," 12 was Samuel Adams' known 
comment to a companion under similar circumstances later that 



Samuel Adams had Ms own brooding thoughts to occupy him. 
He was beginning to see the limits of his own genius. As an agitator, 
as a mob manipulator, as a town politician, he was extraordinarily 
competent. As a statesman, he had infinitely less confidence in 
himself. And the management of the program for the Continental 
Congress would call for statesmanship, and Samuel Adams knew 
it. For the suspicions, fears, and downright dislike of Massachusetts 
ran deep in the other colonies, and Samuel Adams knew that it 
would take more than a Lexington wholly to dissipate them. A 
pessimism seemed to settle over him as he neared Philadelphia a 
pessimism undoubtedly springing from both his reservations about 
coping with fifty men from all the colonies with little in common 
and the historic tendencies of the other colonies to look with mis- 
givings upon Massachusetts. Samuel Adams was much too stern 
a Puritan to recognize either the necessary role of compromise in 
democratic action or the possibility that Massachusetts might not 
always be right. 

The narrowness of Puritan doctrine was offensive to both the 
Middle Atlantic and the Southern states, and the equalitarian 
practices of the New England militia were also repugnant to the 
aristocrats of the South, who loved their romantic illusions about 
an officer-gentleman class. General Ward and General Putnam 
were a storekeeper and a working farmer, respectively, and the 
colonial officers of the South liked to think themselves above such 
pursuits. There were also very serious doubts in the other colonies 
about independence a doctrine that both the Adamses were 
beginning to preach openly. Traditional ties of Virginia, for ex- 
ample, with England were strongly emotional the Church of 
England, the efforts to create a landed aristocracy, the attachment 
to ceremony and formality. In New York the Church of England 
was immensely strong, particularly in New York City, where it 



was the established church. In Pennsylvania the Quakers had 
grave religious misgivings about Massachusetts' militancy. Many 
of the colonies were unsympathetic with the trade problems of 
Massachusetts, some of them being themselves primarily agrarian 
societies. Almost all of them feared as they had in the First 
Continental Congress of the previous autumn a new and strug- 
gling nation run by the zealots of Boston, whose moral principles 
they believed to be tempered with shrewd concern for their own 
economic interests. Finally, more than one serious observer was 
certain that if it were not for the union imposed by the British 
crown, the colonies would be involved in a whole series of intra- 
colonial disputes and wars. 

To one so consistently and so early dedicated to independence as 
Samuel Adams, all these factors conditioning the opening of the 
new session of the Continental Congress were dispiriting. Adams, 
moreover, was tired and depressed. He had not been home since 
the opening of the Provincial Congress in Concord two months 
earlier. In his hasty and circuitous departure from Clarke's house 
in Lexington, he had been unable to return to Boston to get the 
suit that his friends had bought for him to wear at such important 
occasions as the Continental Congress meetings. He spent his 
first days in Philadelphia struggling with the problem of whether 
he could properly buy himself a new suit with public moneys ad- 
vanced to him for expenses, for he had no funds of his own; he 
decided finally to get the suit. Then word came to him of the death, 
of consumption on board ship from England, of Josiah Quincy, 
Junior, at the age of thirty-one. Quincy, a brilliant lawyer, was one 
of the great theoreticians of the American case against England 
and had been in London as an American agent. To Samuel Adams 
he had been like a son, and his admiration for Adams was un- 
limited. His death added to the heaviness with which Samuel 
Adams faced the tasks that lay before the Massachusetts delegation 
at Philadelphia. 

His cousin, John Adams, felt no such melancholy. Thirteen 



years younger than Samuel, far more intellectual and far less 
emotional, John Adams had not just the competences of the 
statesman but also the statesman's values and insights. Moreover, 
John Adams believed thoroughly in the strength of law rather than 
that of great men as the foundation of the really good society. 
Where Samuel Adams was a great Puritan, John was a great 
moralist. While Samuel had to manipulate events to bring about 
an end he sought, John Adams could conceive of no path to an end 
he sought except through reason. With Samuel Adams, the Rev- 
olution was almost a religious matter; with John, it belonged, as 
one more episode, to the long struggle of man to improve himself 
through the use of reason and the establishment of rational insti- 
tutions. And John Adams came to Philadelphia with as much zest 
for the intellectual exercise in the sessions of Congress as his older 
cousin did with reluctance. 

John Adams wrote in his diary an entire program for the Second 
Continental Congress: "I thought the first step ought to be to 
recommend to the people ... to seize on all the Crown officers, 
and hold them with civility, humanity, and generosity, as hostages 
for the security of the people of Boston and to be exchanged for 
them as soon as the British army would release them [this was un- 
necessary, because then unknown to Adams Gage permitted 
inhabitants who wished to do so to leave Boston] ; that we ought to 
recommend to people of all the States to institute governments 
for themselves, under their own authority, and that without loss 
of time; that we ought to declare the Colonies free, sovereign and 
independent states, and then to inform Great Britain we were 
willing to enter into negotiations with them for the redress of all 
grievances, and a restoration of harmony between the two coun- 
tries, upon permanent principles. All this I thought might be done 
before we entered into any connections, alliances or negotiations 
with foreign powers. I was also for informing Great Britain very 
frankly that hitherto we were free; but, if the war should be con- 
tinued, we were determined to seek alliances with France, Spain 



and any other power of Europe that would contract with us. 
That we ought immediately to adopt the army in Cambridge as a 
continental army, to appoint a General and all other officers, take 
upon ourselves the pay, subsistence, clothing, armor and munitions 
of the troops." 1 * 

On Wednesday, May tenth, the forty-eight delegates present 
convened in Pennsylvania's State House on Chestnut Street in 
Philadelphia. If the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts was an 
illegal body, the Continental Congress was a step further from 
legality. As an institution it was nothing more than an assemblage 
of four dozen men from the various colonies, met together to discuss 
the difficulties that they were variously facing with England. The 
delegates had no uniform authority whatever, some being author- 
ized by their colonial legislatures merely to attend the Congress. 
Only two colonies, Maryland and North Carolina, were com- 
mitted to supporting whatever acts the Congress might pass. Yet 
resistance to the British rule was in the air, and there is no doubt 
that the differences that occurred were due to varying judgment 
on the pacing and degree of the resistance. 

The first three days were spent in reading the Lexington deposi- 
tions, fixing the blame for the first bloodshed upon the British and 
so memorializing the ministry in London. An official request from 
the Provincial Congress in Massachusetts that the Continental 
Congress take over the army "by appointing a generalissimo," 14 
was read, but then the news of Ticonderoga arrived. Attention 
was diverted to the problem of what to do with the captured fort 
and with nearby Crown Point, also captured. Samuel Adams 
wanted to use them as a point of departure for a march on Canada 
and was voted down in a resolution that provided merely for the 
occupation of the captured forts. The Congress then considered 
two requests for advice from New York on what course it should 
take if, as was expected, British troops were landed. The answer: 
a peaceable landing was aH right, but force should be met with 



The hot Philadelphia May droned on, and as Samuel Adams 
seemed to withdraw more and more into himself, John Adams 
began to fume at the reluctance of the Congress to take any bold 
or even significant action. He blew up in anger when the conserv- 
ative faction, led by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, introduced 
a resolution petitioning the King for negotiations leading to recon- 
ciliation. John Adams gave a long speech in opposition, after which 
Dickinson followed him into the courtyard and told him that if 
the New Englanders "don't concur with us in our pacific system, 
I and a number of us will break off from you in New England, and 
we will carry on the opposition ourselves in our own way." 15 
Furious as he was at this threat, Adams was determined not to 
walk into any trap that would divide the Congress before it had 
achieved what he had thought to be its proper objectives. He 
voted for the resolution and bided his time. 

Most of the debating soared far over the head of John Hancock, 
who was having his troubles, even at a distance, with his fiancee, 
Dorothy Quincy. She refused to answer any of his letters and even 
to acknowledge pretty gifts he kept sending her by messenger to 
Fairfield. He was, moreover, getting word that Dorothy's host's 
nephew, Aaron Burr, was in Fairfield and paying too much atten- 
tion to her and that she was gleefully accepting it. Hancock's 
papers, during these epochal birth pains of the American nation 
that he witnessed, consist of scolding letters to Dorothy Quincy. 
Meanwhile, his great vanity was indulged by his election as presi- 
dent of the Congress. Actually, the presidency had no more 
authority than a clerkship, and Peyton Randolph of Virginia had 
resigned it because he felt that the speakership of. the Virginia 
Assembly was more important. There is no record that, as presi- 
dent, Hancock showed either organizational or intellectual lead- 
ership. He simply presided as a chairman and functioned largely 
as a correspondence clerk. If history were beckoning John Han- 
cock, it would have to be more obvious. He made nothing of the 
opportunity for leadership that, however vague its capacity, the 



post represented. Instead, he waited for a place of greater glory 
commensurate with what he thought to be his ability. 

Probably the most tenacious political entity of the time was the 
Provincial Congress sitting under Dr. Warren at Watertown, 
Massachusetts. Its communication to the Continental Congress 
having gone unanswered, it sent another on May sixteenth and had 
it delivered personally by one of its own members, Dr. Benjamin 
Church, who wrote a very polite note to Gage, saying that he would 
not be able to do any spying for a while because of the journey to 
Philadelphia. It was Thursday, June first the Continental Con- 
gress had been in session for three weeks when Dr. Church 
arrived in Philadelphia. He delivered the Provincial Congress 
letter to the State House, stayed around for a week, possibly to 
gather what information he could get to sell to Gage, prescribed a 
lotion for John Adams* eyes, which had been smarting badly ever 
since his long, feverish ride from Massachusetts, and then returned 
home, carrying with him letters from the delegates to their families 
and friends. 

The effects of the carefully prepared document from Massa- 
chusetts, bearing the stamp of Dr. Joseph Warren in its style, was 
to force the Continental Congress to action. It shrewdly associated 
the problems of local self-government for the colonies thereby 
declaring a de facto interruption if not an end to British rule and 
of the creation of a continental army. Formally it petitioned the 
Continental Congress for advice in setting up a civil government 
to replace that of the Crown. The petition was in itself less im- 
portant than its implication, for the Provincial Congress had for 
six months been functioning as the only civil government 
of Massachusetts in any case. But the implication that Massa- 
chusetts could not and would not set up a permanent civil govern- 
ment without the consent of the Continental Congress forced upon 



the latter body the role of central authority over all the colonies. 
Similarly, the petition gave a civil authority power over the 
military by urging and pleading that the Continental Congress 
take over the army assembling at Cambridge. The formal acts that 
Massachusetts would require of the Congress were, of course, ad- 
vice to go ahead and set up a civil government and the appoint- 
ment of a continental commander in chief of the army. All this 
obviously was forcing the hand of a body which had no power to 
set up governments and wage wars unless it assumed such powers. 
Its only present purpose was as a forum for its members to advise 
and consult with one another as representatives of wholly separate 
chartered colonies. Massachusetts would have the Continental 
Congress become a governing legislature. 

John Adams thought that the Continental Congress avoided 
facing this essential metamorphosis by occupying itself with more 
conciliatory proposals. "This measure of imbecility, the second 
petition to the King," he grumbled in his diary, "embarrassed 
every exertion of Congress; it occasioned motions and debates 
without end for appointing committees to draw up a declara- 
tion of the causes, motives, and objects of taking arms with a view 
to obtain decisive declarations against independence, etc. In the 
mean time the New England army investing Boston, the New 
England legislatures, congresses and conventions, and the whole 
body of the people were left without munitions of war, without 
arms, clothing, pay, or even countenance and encouragement. 
Every post brought me letters from my friends , . . urging in 
pathetic terms the impossibility of keeping their men together 
without the assistance of Congress." 10 

Many delegates, however, hoped for some peaceable word from 
England, and the petition from Massachusetts was handled slowly. 
Hancock read it to the Congress on Friday, June second. John 
Adams immediately rose to entreat the delegates to give an early 
and affirmative reply. He saw the first part of the petition, "re- 



questing the Congress to favor them with explicit advice respecting 
the taking up and exercising the powers of civil government/' 17 
as an occasion for the Continental Congress to urge all the colonies 
to institute new governments. In his diary he observed that he 
supposed America should probably follow the example of the 
Greeks and form a confederacy of states. He believed "that the 
case of Massachusetts was the most urgent, but that it could not be 
long before every other colony must follow her example. That with 
a view to this subject, I had looked into the ancient and modern 
confederacies for example, but they all appeared to me to have been 
huddled up in a hurry by a few chiefs. But we had a people of more 
intelligence, curiosity and enterprise, who must be all consulted, 
and we must realize the theories of the wisest writers, and invite 
the people to erect the whole building with their own hands, 
upon the broadest foundation. That this could be done only by 
conventions of representatives chosen by the people in the several 
colonies, in the most exact proportions. That it was my opinion 
that Congress ought now to recommend to the people of every 
colony to call such conventions immediately, and set up govern- 
ments of their own, under their own authority; for the people were 
the source of all authority and original of all power. These were 
new, strange and terrible doctrines to the greatest part of the 
members. . . , 5518 

Adams, in this wise and ultimately heeded speech, seemed, as 
he noted, to be some light years ahead of most of his brothers of 
the Congress, who still saw the problem as solely one of finding an 
harmonious way of living under the British. They were still on the 
whole, more fearful of independence and instability than of oc- 
casional British arrogance and enforced stability. So as though 
its pestiferous pleas might vanish in the night they lay the Massa- 
chusetts petition on the table. The next morning, of course, they 
had to face it all over again. This they did by appointing a com- 
mittee of five not one of them from New England to consider 
the petition. John Adams continued to fume at the inaction. In 



Watertown, Dr. Joseph Warren, still presiding over daily sessions 
of a Provincial Congress trying to hold together an army of 
several thousands that was no longer just a Massachusetts army, 
brought up the bugaboo of military rule : "The matter of taking 
up government, I think, cannot occasion much debate. If the 
southern colonies have any apprehensions from the northern colo- 
nies, they surely must now be for an establishment of civil govern- 
ment here; for, as an army is now necessary or is tailing the field, 
it is obvious to everyone, if they are without control, a military 
government must certainly take place. . . ." 19 

Oddly enough, it was Samuel Adams who was most relaxed over 
the slowness with which the Massachusetts petition was dealt: 
"The spirit of patriotism prevails among the members of this 
Congress, but from the necessity of things business must go slower 
than one could wish. It is difficult to possess upwards of sixty 
gentlemen at once with the same feelings upon questions of im- 
portance that are continually arising." 20 

Finally, on June seventh, the Congress responded to the civil 
government part of the Massachusetts petition. It not only did not 
go as far as John Adams would wish but it avoided accommodating 
Massachusetts with any advice or consent to the establishment 
of a "permanent" government. Nevertheless, it recognized the 
right of a people to set up their own government and to ignore a 
tyrannical government. In the specific case of Massachusetts, it 
ruled "that no obedience being due to the Act of Parliament for 
altering the charter of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, nor to a 
Governor or Lieutenant-Governor who will not observe the direc- 
tions of, but endeavor to subvert, that charter. The Governor and 
Lieutenant-Govemor of that colony are to be considered as absent, 
and their offices vacant; and as there is no Council there, and the 
inconveniences arising from the suspension of the powers of gov- 
ernment are intolerable, especially at a time when General Gage 
hath actually levied war and is carrying on hostilities against his 
Majesty's peaceable and loyal subjects of that Colony; that, in 



order to conform as near as may be to the spirit and substance of 
the charter, it be recommended to the Provincial Convention to 
write letters to the inhabitants of the several places, which are en- 
titled to representation in Assembly, requesting them to choose 
such representatives, and that the Assembly when chosen do elect 
Counsellors ; and that such assembly or Council exercise the powers 
of government, until a Governor of His Majesty's appointment 
will consent to govern the Colony according to its charter." 21 

Although it both expressed loyalty to the King and went no 
further in the assertion of rights than those granted in the old 
charters, this resolution represented a tremendous commitment 
to the Congress. Not only did it advise a colony to institute its 
own government, albeit temporary, but it, ipso facto, set itself 
up as a central authority within the colonies. The resolution went 
off to Massachusetts. The Congress in Philadelphia now faced the 
thorny question of adopting the New England army. In doing so, 
it would be committing all the colonies to a war with Britain that 
before Lexington was utterly inconceivable to any delegate there 
with the possible exception of the radical and rhetorical Patrick 
Henry, Samuel Adams' Virginia counterpart, who could hardly 
wait for hostilities to resume. 


The key to the adoption of the New England army at Cambridge 
by the Continental Congress was the appointment of a commander 
in chief. Yet John Adams was the only delegate ready to press the 
matter. Samuel Adams, who distrusted generals, was in favor of 
soldiers' electing their own officers and was not anxious to see any 
general appointed. Whenever his cousin tried to consult with him 
on the subject, he withdrew into silence and said nothing. 

Nor were John Adams' other colleagues from Massachusetts 
much help to him, "Mr. Hancock himself had an ambition to be 
appointed commander in chief. Whether he thought an election 



a compliment due to him,, and intended to have the honor of 
declining it, or whether he would have accepted, I know not." 22 
Gushing wanted a New Englander, because the army was from 
New England. Paine insisted that the post should go to his old 
college mate, Artemas Ward. But John Adams had made up his 
mind that it had to be a Southerner. Fear of New England he 
recognized as far too powerful to permit a New England com- 
mander in chief. His alert eye fixed upon the only man attending 
the Congress in uniform, Colonel George Washington of Virginia. 
Adams was impressed by Washington's quiet patriotism (Wash- 
ington's resolution to raise and personally pay for a force of a 
thousand men and march at their head to the relief of Boston had 
become widely known), by his sense of economy in speaking, and 
by the extraordinary strength of his character. By the middle 
of June he was determined to start the machinery to elect Wash- 
ington as commander in chief. 

John Adams began his tactics with some electioneering outside 
the State House. With Gushing and Paine he got nowhere, and he 
would not, of course, even mention Washington's name to Han- 
cock. Even more surprising were objections from other colonies to 
Washington's lack of proved ability. Whenever Adams brought 
up the Virginia colonel's record in the French war, he was re- 
minded that every major engagement that Washington partici- 
pated in was lost. Adams, however, remained convinced that 
Washington was the only man for the job. Not even the views of 
some of Washington's fellow delegates from Virginia could change 
his mind. "In canvassing this subject, out of doors, I found too that 
even among the delegates of Virginia there were difficulties. The 
apostolical reasonings among themselves, which should be greatest, 
were not less energetic among the saints of the ancient dominion 
than they were among us of New England. In several conversations, 
I found more than one very cool about the appointment of Wash- 
ington, and particularly Mr. Pendleton was very dear and full 
against it" 28 As president of the Virginia Committee of Safety, 



(Tfae ntmtfwiq troops of Smith wen rescued at 
LvciygtmtyfiMQetiie wwwmded> toy Xoyrf ?ero?, 
who set up fiMjrieces to tep militia fit JJPUJ while 
ritisk n~fiwwed -for ikeir ntrnnt to Kostm. 



Edmund Pendleton had a particularly strong influence. But 
Adams, contemplating the need and dangers of the weak, quarrel- 
some cluster of colonies and the shaggy, unorganized axmy that he 
had seen at Cambridge, saw Washington's gifts of character and 
his respect-commanding bearing as necessary to the building of any 
effective army and to any enlistments or support outside of New 

On Wednesday, June fourteenth eight weeks, to the day, after 
Lexington John Adams determined that he would that day 
nominate George Washington as commander in chief of an Amer- 
ican army. That morning he took only his cousin, Samuel Adams, 
into his confidence. John Adams was still troubled by the looseness 
of the organization of the New England army (of the twenty 
thousand who besieged Boston right after Lexington, four thou- 
sand had gone home), by the irresolute attitude of some of the 
other colonies, by the doubts expressed during his canvassing of his 
colleagues on Washington. "Full of anxieties concerning these 
confusions," he wrote in his diary, "and apprehending daily that 
we should hear very distressing news from Boston, I walked with 
Mr. Samuel Adams in the State House yard, for a little exercise and 
fresh air, before the hour of Congress, and there represented to 
him the various dangers that surrounded us. He agreed to them 
all, but said, c What shall we do? 3 1 answered him, that he knew I 
had taken great pains to get our colleagues to agree upon some 
plan, that we might be unanimous; but he knew that they would 
pledge themselves to nothing; but I was determined to take a step 
which should compel them and all the other members of Congress 
to declare themselves for or against something. e l am determined 
this morning to make a direct motion that Congress should adopt 
the army before Boston, and appoint Colonel Washington com- 
mander of it.' Mr. Adams seemed to think very seriously of it, 
but said nothing." 24 

John Adams entered the State House and, as soon as the session 
was convened, arose to make his speech. He had no idea of how 



much support he would get from his cousin, but he knew from 
whom he would get opposition. He pressed the need for the im- 
mediate adoption of the army at Cambridge and appointing a 
commanding general. He then proceeded to describe the ideal man, 
"who was among us and very well known to all of us, a gentleman 
whose skill and experience as an officer, whose independent 
fortune, great talents and excellent universal character would 
command the approbation of all America and unite the cordial 
exertions of all the colonies better than any other person. . . ," 25 

At this great speech of John Adams, Hancock, sitting in the 
president's chair, beamed on the assembled delegates as he im- 
agined his colleague to be leading up to his, Hancock's, nomi- 
nation as commander in chief. But when Adams came to Wash- 
ington's name, and as the Virginian left the room to permit the 
nomination to be debated, Hancock's face fell noticeably. "I never 
remarked a more sudden and striking change of countenance," 
Adams said. "Mortification and resentment were expressed as 
forcibly as his face could exhibit them. Mr. Samuel Adams sec- 
onded the motion, and that did not soften the President's physiog- 
nomy at all." 26 

John Adams was both surprised and gratified that his nomina- 
tion of Washington was seconded by Samuel Adams, who "very 
rarely spoke much in Congress," 27 though Hancock felt more 
bitterly about the seconding speech than he did about the nomi- 
nation. But as soon as Samuel Adams was finished, several dele- 
gates leaped to their feet to oppose the nomination. Edmund 
Pendleton of Virginia and Roger Sherman took the lead in an 
argument based on the fact that the army was from New England 
and already had a general with whom they were apparently 
satisfied in Artemas Ward and who was able to keep the British 
bottled up in Boston which was all that anybody wanted them 
to do at the time. Both the remaining Massachusetts delegates, 
Gushing and Paine, failed to support the nomination. Gushing 
was afraid that a Virginia commander would lead to dissent in the 



ranks, particularly since New England militia were not accus- 
tomed to taldng orders from their officers even when they chose 
their own. Paine said that Artemas Ward was at Harvard with 
him and was a great and competent man. The session ended with 
no action being taken at all. 

John Adams refused to give up. He spent the evening con- 
ducting a campaign among the delegates. He was relatively cer- 
tain that most of the delegates who had made no comment during 
the debate were for Washington. Consequently, he spent his time 
with those who opposed the nomination, finally persuading them 
to withdraw their opposition. He talked with his own delegates 
from Massachusetts and made them see that their attitude risked 
all that they had come to Philadelphia to achieve. By the time 
Adams retired that night, he was no longer doubtful about the 
outcome. The next morning Thomas Johnson of Maryland for- 
mally nominated Washington again. He was unanimously elected. 
The army had a general. And the Continental Congress had an 

Eight weeks had passed since William Diamond beat his drum 
on the Common at Lexington and some forty men lined up to 
face the British regulars. Now, as the hot Philadelphia summer 
wore on, it began to dawn upon the delegates to the Congress that 
they were no longer concerned with launching a revolution but 
merely with the conduct of a war to seal it, "for the revolution was 
complete in the minds of the people and the union of the colonies, 
before the war commenced in the skirmishes of Concord and Lex- 
ington on the igth of April, I775." 28 

Back in Lexington the townspeople followed through, without 
reservations, without holding back, on what they had started on 
that April dawn. Captain Parker mustered forty-five men of his 
company on May sixth and again marched them to Cambridge to 
help sustain the siege of Boston. In June he marched sixty-four of 



them to aid in the battle of Bunker's Hill. Three months later, how- 
ever, Captain Parker was dead at forty-six, having been in an ad- 
vanced state of tuberculosis all through his fighting days that 
eventful spring. 

After the provincial militia was incorporated into the Con- 
tinental Army, a hundred and six men of Lexington, out of a 
total population of seven hundred and fifty, enlisted. From the 
farms of Lexington they followed the British, for six years, all the 
way down the coast to Yorktown. Men whose families for four 
and five generations had not been twelve miles from the Common 
turned up on the battlefields and camp grounds of New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Some of them, like 
Edmund Munroe, the veteran of Rogers' Rangers, were killed in 
those distant places. All the male members of the family of Samuel 
Hadley, who was killed on the Common his father and three 
brothers followed the British to New York and on to Virginia. 
Prince Estabrook, the slave, fought throughout the war and came 
back to his freedom. 

William Diamond, the drummer, also went away to the war, 
grew up in the army, and returned to Lexington. There he married 
Rebecca Simonds, who had been only eleven when her father 
marched off with Captain Parker to Cambridge. They had six 
children and in later years moved to New Hampshire, where 
William Diamond died during the presidency of John Adams' 
son. The young fifer, Jonathan Harrington, also returned to Lex- 
ington, married, and surviving five of his seven children died at 
ninety-six in 1854, the year that Lincoln and Douglas debated the 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill. But the family of the other Jonathan 
Harrington, the young father who had crawled across the Common 
to die on his own doorstep, disappeared from Lexington. His son 
died the year after the battle just before his tenth birthday, and his 
young widow went to Boston to start a new life. 

Young Dr. Prescott, of Concord, and Lydia MullSken, whom 
he was courting in Lexington the night that he joined Revere 



in rousing the minutemen of Lincoln and Concord, were never 
married. The Mulliken house, standing in the staging area for 
Percy's retreat, had been burned to the ground; and Lydia, her 
mother, and four younger children all moved into the house of a 
neighbor. Prescott became a surgeon with the Continental Army, 
was captured, and died in a British prison at Halifax in 1777. 
Lydia's two older brothers enlisted in the Continental Army; one 
of them, the minuteman, Nathaniel, was dead within ten months. 
Lydia waited until eight years had dimmed the memory of the 
young doctor, and then she married and moved away. And so 
the war did not deal easily with the people of Lexington, but they 
responded with gallantry and dignity and acceptance. 

The other hero-physician of the day, Dr. Joseph Warren, who 
had taken such brilliant command of the province's affairs after 
the battle, was made a major general by the Continental Con- 
gress. He fought as a volunteer at the battle of Bunker's Hill, 
however, refusing a command because his commission had not yet 
arrived. He was killed, as he had wished, in active combat, as the 
British stormed a redoubt whose defenders had run out of am- 
munition. A few yards away the Royal Marine Major Pitcairn, 
who had commanded on Lexington Common, fell mortally 
wounded and died in the arms of his soldier son. 

In Lexington the Reverend Jonas Clarke remained a great 
and dominant influence. On behalf of the town he wrote a thun- 
dering disapproval of Jay's Treaty, terminating the war with 
Britain, in 1795. Three years later he wrote a masterpiece of 
statesmanship, a persuasive and closely reasoned petition from the 
town to Congress against the arming of merchant vessels during 
the quasi-war with France. His twelve children scattered all over 
the world, some becoming diplomats, some merchant-adventurers, 
some politicians and judges. None of his sons entered the ministry, 
but all his daughters who married became the wives of clergymen, 
including an Anglican who was president of Columbia College 
in New York. 



Half a century after his ministry in Lexington began, Jonas 
Clarke died, just a month before his seventy-fifth birthday. His 
people carried him from the old house where the Hancocks and 
Clarkes had lived for over a hundred years and interred him in 
the tomb their grandfathers had built for old "Bishop" Hancock. 
So the great day of Lexington slipped into history, having "given us 
a name among the nations of the earth." 29 



(NOTE: Unorthodox orthography, capitalization, and punctuation 
have been changed in quotations, except when otherwise noted, 
to avoid unnecessary distractions. Today such variations as ap- 
peared in the originals would misleadingly suggest illiteracy. Actu- 
ally, of course, in the eighteenth century uniform spellings and 
punctuation were not common even among the educated,} 


1 Peter Force, American Archives, 4th Series, II, 492-93. 
2 Elias Phinney, History of the Battle at Lexington, 33, 
3 Ezra Ripley, A History of the Fight at Concord, 35. 
4 Major General William Heath, Memoirs, 12. 
5 Charles Hudson, History of Lexington, II, 527. 
6 Force, op. cit., 4, II, 491, Italics added. 




^Proceedings of the Centennial of the Battle of Lexington, 10* 

2 Josiah Quincy, The History of Harvard University, II, 120. 

W.F. Gazette, April 18, 1768, reprinted in Boston Gazette. 

^Sermon Preached on the Ordination of Mr. John Hancock [Jr.] 

5 Diary of Jonas Clarke, October 19, 1766. 

6 Edward Holyoke, Obedience and Submission, 7 f. 

7 Edward Holyoke, Integrity and Religion, 12 f. 

8 Jonathan Mayhew, The Snare Broken, 9. 

^Instructions "To William Reed, Esq., the present Representative 

of Lexington," October 21,1 765. 

10 Cited in Carl Becker, The Eve of the Revolution, 42. 

n lnstractions, loc. cit. Cf. John Stuart Mill: "Thus a people may 

prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, 

or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the 

exertions necessary for preserving it ... they are unlikely long to 

enjoy it." (Representative Government) 

^Declarations and Resolves, Town of Lexington, September 21, 


18 Report of the Committee of Correspondence adopted by the 

Town of Lexington, December 1773. 

15 Resolves, Town of Lexington, September 26, 1774. 

ie jonas Clarke, The Importance of Military Skill, Measures for 

Defense, and a Martial Spirit in a Time of Peace, 1 1 . 

1T Carleton A. Staples, Proceedings of the Lexington Historical 

Society, IV, 48 ff. 

18 Heath Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, I, 19, 6, 




! The Writings of Samuel Adams, II, 25. 

2 Francis H. Brown, Lexington Historical Society, A Copy of 
Epitaphs in the Old Burying-Grounds, 26. 
Proceedings of the Lexington Historical Society, II, 158 ff. 
4 The Writings of Samuel Adams, II, 115. 

5 W. V. Wells, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams, 
I, 196. 

6 From the Salem Gazette, cited in Richard Frothingham, Life and 
Times of Joseph Warren, 445. It is not in the journals of the Pro- 
vincial Congress. 

^Intelligence received April isth, 1775" in Gage Papers, Clem- 
ents Library, the University of Michigan. 

8 Warren- Adams Letters. First Series, Massachusetts Historical 
Society Collections, LXXII, 45. 

9 "Colonial Correspondence on the Boston Port Bill," Fourth Series, 
Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, IV. 
10 Paul Revere to Dr. Jeremy Belknap, First Series, Massachusetts 
Historical Society, Collections, 1, 105 ff. 


Deposition of Paul Revere, undated. In Massachusetts Historical 

2 Lieutenant John Barker, King's Own Regiment, "A British Officer 
in Boston," in Atlantic Monthly, XXXIX, 389 ff. 
8 Gage to the Earl of Dartmouth, March 28, 1775, in The Corre- 
spondence of General Thomas Gage with the Secretaries of State, 
1763-1775, 1, 395. 



4 Gage to Dartmouth, October 30, 1774, loc. cit. } I, 389. 

Dartmouth to Gage, January 27, 1775, loc. cit., II, 183. 

6 Ensign Henry de Berniere, in Second Series, Massachusetts His- 

torical Society Collections, IV, 2 14-15. 

7 Barker, loc. cit., 398. 

8 Bancroft Transcripts, Manuscripts Division, New York Public 


9 Lieutenant Frederick Mackenzie, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Diary, 

I, 18. 

10 First Series, Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, IV, 


n Henry W. Holland, William Dawes, read before the New Eng- 

land Historic Genealogical Society, June 7, 1876, 9. 

12 Revere to Belknap, loc. cit. 

13 Mehitable May (Dawes) Goddard in Holland, op. cit., 35. 

14 Revere to Belknap, loc. cit. 

16 In the Devens papers, cited by Richard Frothingham, The Siege 
of Boston, 57 n. 

17 G. W. Brown, "Sketch of the Life of Solomon Brown," in Pro- 
ceedings of the Lexington Historical Society, II, 1 24. 
18 Deposition of Elijah Sanderson. 

19 Elbridge H. Goss, The Life of Colonel Paul Revere, 1, 199 n. 
20 Reverend Jonas Clarke, Opening of the War of the Revolution, 
igth of April, 1775. A Brief Narrative of the Principal Trans- 
actions of that Day. Appended to a Sermon Preached by Him in 
Lexington, April 19, 1776. Lexington Historical Society. 
21 Revere to Belknap, loc. cit. 
22 Deposition of Paul Revere, loc. cit. 

26 Deposition of Elijah Sanderson. 



27 In the Gage Papers, William L. Clements Library, University 

of Michigan. 

28 Mackenzie, op. cit. I, 18. 

29 Cited in Allen French, General Gage's Informers, 39. Ensign 

Lister's narrative account was written in 1 782. 

*Ibid., 40. 

31 Barker, loc. cit., 398. 

S2 Lieutenant William Sutherland, in Late News of the Excursion 

and Ravages of the King's Troops, 13. 

33 S. A. Smith, West Cambridge on the Nineteenth of April, 1775, 


England Historical and Genealogical Register, VIII, 187. 

37 Munroe deposition. 
38 Sutherland, op. cit., 14. 

40 Ibid. 

41 Revereto Belknap, loc. cit. 


1 Resolves of the Town of Lexington, December 1 773. 
2 Force, op. cit., 491. 

3 "Journals of the Second Provincial Congress., 112. 
4 Letter report of Major Pitcairn to General Gage, April 26, 1775, 
in Gage Papers at William L. Clements Library. 
5 Henry de Berniere, Second Series, Massachusetts Historical So- 
ciety Collections, IV, 216. 
^Barker, loc. cit., 398. 

7 "Circumstantial Account," by General Gage, Second Series, Mas- 
sachusetts Historical Society Collections, II, 225. 
8 Force, op. cit., 496. 



10 Report to Gage, loc. cit. 
u Force ? op. cit., 491,, emphasis added, 
12 Sutherland, op. tit., 17. 
18 De Berniere, loc. cit., 216. 

14 Jonas Clarke, Appendix to "The Fate of Blood-thirsty Oppres- 

15 Report to Gage, loc. cit. 
16 Barker, loc. cit., 398-99. 
Blister's narrative, loc. cit., 55. 
18 De Bemiere, loc. cit., 216. 

10 Smith to R. Donkin, October 8, 1775, in Gage Papers. 
20 Sutherland, op. cit., 18. 
21 Smith to Donkin, loc. cit. 

23 Barker, loc. cit., 398-99. 

24 Sutherland to Gage, April 27, 1775, in Gage Papers. 

25 Clarke, loc. cit. 

26 Dorothy Quincy to Sumner, New England Historical and Genea- 

logicd Regist er, VIII, 1881. 

27 Ibid. 

^Proceedings of the Lexington Historical Society, III, 91-93, orig- 

inal orthography, capitalizing, punctuation, and emphasis pre- 



^Proceedings of the Centennial of Concord Fight, 8 1 . * 

2 John Winthrop, The History of New England, ed. James Savage, 

I, 289. 

8 Amos Barrett letters in Henry True, Journals and Letters, 3 1 . 



5 William Emerson, "Diary/ 3 facsimile in "The Literature of the 

Nineteenth of April/ 3 appended to Proceedings at the Centennial 

Celebration of Concord Fight, 163 ff. 

6 Barrett, loc. cit., 31. 

T Abiel Holmes, American Annals, II, 326. 

8 Lemuel Shattuck, A History of the Town of Concord, 109. 

9 Affidavit of Amos Baker., of Lincoln, appended to Robert Rantoul, 

An Oration Delivered at Concord on the Celebration of the 

Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Events of April 19, 1775. 

10 Barker, loc. cit., 399. 

n Shattuck, op. cit., in. 

12 Barrett, loc. cit., 33. 

13 Jeremy Lister, cited in Allen French, General Gage's Informers, 


14 Sutherland, op. cit., 20. 

I5 Ibid. 

16 Barker, loc. cit., 399. 

17 Laurie, Report to Gage, in Gage Papers, William L. Clements 


18 Barrett, loc. cit., 33. 

19 Shattuck, op. cit., 112. 

20 Barrett, loc. cit., 33. 

21 Reverend William Gordon, Letter dated May 17, 1775, in 

Force, 4th Series, II, 630. 


Barker, loc. cit., 400. 

2 Dr. William Aspinwall, in Hudson, op. cit., 1, 182 n, 

3 Emerson, loc. cit., 164 f. 

4 Barrett, loc. cit., 33. 

5 De Berniere, loc. cit., 2 1 7. 

Sutherland, op. cit., 20, 22. 



7 The Reverend Edmund Foster to Colonel Daniel Shattuck, cited 

in Ezra Bipley, History of the Fight at Concord, 23. 

8 Mackenzie, op. cit., I, 26* 

9 Foster, loc. tit., 23. 

w The Essex Gazette, April 25, 1775. 

n Lister, loc. cit., 112. 

12 DeBerniere, loc. cit., 217. 

18 Barker, loc. cit., 400. 

^Letters of Hugh, Earl Percy, 54. 

15 Mackenzie, op. cit., I, 29. 

Detail and Conduct of the American War, 10. 

18 Mackenzie, op. cit., I, 19. 

19 Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 147. 

20 Report to Gage, in Percy Letters, 50. 

21 Dr. David McLure, "Diary," in First Series, Massachusetts His- 

torical Society Proceedings, XVI, 158. 

22 Mackenzie, op. cit., I, 19-20. 

23 Heath, op. cit., 20. 

25 Mackenzie, op. cit., 20-21. 

26 The Reverend John Marrett to the Reverend Isaiah Dunster, 

July 28,1775, in S. Dunster, Henry Dunster and His Descendants, 


^Columbia Centinel, February 6, 1 793. 

28 L. R. Paige, History of Cambridge, 1630-1877, 413 n. 

29 Cutler, History of Arlington, 69. 

80 S. A. Smith, West Cambridge on the Nineteenth of April, 1775, 


ai Anna Adams, in Christian Register, XXXIX, 169, 

82 Mackenzie, op. cit., 21-22. 

83 Rough draft copy of Percy's report to Gage in Percy Letters, 51 . 

84 Letter of Pickering to Governor SulEvan, Massachusetts His- 

torical Society. 



35 Jared Sparks, The Writings of George Washington, II, 407. 

36 Heath, op. tit., 33. 

37 Barker, loc. cit., 401. 

* 8 Ibid. 

39 Percy to General Harvey, in Percy Letters, 52-53. 


1 Samuel Adams to Charles Thomson, June 1 7, 1774. 
2 Lieutenant Colonel Smith's report to Gage, in First Series, Mas- 
sachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, XIV, 350. 
3 Cited in S. A. Drake, Historic Fields and Mansions of Middlesex, 

4 To William Eustis, later Governor of Massachusetts, in Richard 
Frothingham, Life and Times of Joseph Warren, 168. 
5 Heath, op. cit. y 24. 

6 Original in Dr. Warren's handwriting in Massachusetts Archives. 
Emphasis added. 

7 Dr. Warren to General Gage, April 20, 1775, Force, Archives, 
4th Series, II, 370. 

8 Force, Archives^ 4th Series, II, 360. 

9 First Series, Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, VIII, 

10 Letter cited in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, 
June 14, 1775. 
^Lloyds, June 19-21, 1775. 

12 Letter cited in Pennsylvania Journal, August 2, 1 775. 
ls Essex Gazette, May 12, 1775. 

u Harper*s Magazine, May 1875, cited in E. Chase, The Begin- 
nings of the American Revolution, III, 30. 
15 Joshua Coffin, History of Newbury, 245. 

16 Alexander Scannell to John Sullivan in Force, Archives, 4th 
Series, II, 501. 



17 Andover Muster Rolls, in Massachusetts Archives, XII, 136. 
18 Letter of June 26, 1807, in Massachusetts Historical Society. 
19 Thompson to Gage, May 6, 1775, in Gage Papers. 
20 Proceedings of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety in Force, 
Archives, 4th Series, II, 744. 
21 Ibid. 

22 Journal of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts., 671. 
23 Bateman Deposition, Force, op. cit., 501. 
^Journal of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, 673. 
25 Revere to Dr. Jeremy Belknap, January i, 1798, in E. H. Goss, 
The Life of Colonel Paul Revere, I, 208. 
Ibid., 209. 

27 A Narrative of the Excursion and Ravages of the King's Troops, 
under the Command of General Gage, on the Nineteenth of April, 
1775: Together with the Depositions Taken by Order of Congress 
to Support the Truth of It. Printed by Isaiah Thomas, at Worces- 
ter, May, 1775. It is in Journal of the Provincial Congress of 
Massachusetts, 66 1. 

28 Journal of Provincial Congress of Massachusetts -, 684 ff. 
2Q Ibid. 
Ibid., 677. 

31 Cambridge Vital Records, II, 10, also in Lucius R. Paige, 
Genealogical Register appended to History of Cambridge. 
82 In Christian Register, XXXIX, 169. 
8S In Force, Archives, 4th Series, II, 488. 

34 The Reverend John Marrett to the Reverend Isaiah Dunster, 
July 28, 1775, in S. Dunster, Henry Dunster and his Descendants, 

35 Handbill of the Salem Gazette. 
m Massachusetts Spy, May 3, 1775. 

8T Address to the Inhabitants in Force, Archives, 4th Series, II, 428. 
88 Proceedings of the Provincial Congress in Force, Archives, 4th 
Series, II, 488. 
88 'Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, XXXVI, 19. 



^Correspondence of Thomas Gage, II, 673, 
41 Gibbon to Hobroyd (Lord Sheffield) , May 30, 1 775. 
42 Dartmouthto Gage, June i, 1775. 
43 Gage memorandum to Admiral Graves, April 23, 1 775. 
44 Gage to Dartmouth, April 22, 1775. 
45 The London Press, June 12, 1775. 
46 Dartmouth to Gage, July i, 1775. 

^Speech on Moving Resolutions for Conciliation with the Colo- 
nies, March 22, 1775, in Works, II, 101-82. 


1 Washington to John Augustine Washington, June 20, 1775, in 
E* G. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of Continental Congress, 

i, 138. 

2 John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 1 7, 1 775, in Letters of John 
Adams, Addressed to his Wife, 1, 45-46. 
s The Works of John Adams, II, 406. 

5 Hancock to the Committee of Safety, April 24, 1775, in William 
V. Wells, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams, II, 296- 


6 Letter from Brown to Samuel Adams and Dr. Warren, March 

29, 1775, appended to L. E. Chittendon, The Capture of Ticon- 


7 Gordon, History of the Rise, Progress and Establishment of the 

Independence of the United States, I, 332 flf. 

8 Silas Deane to Elizabeth Saltonstall Deane, May 7, 1775, in 

Connecticut Historical Society Collections, II, 222. 

g lbid., 223. 

w The Works of John Adams, II, 406. 

l:L Hancock to Dorothy Quincy, May 7, 1775, in New England 

Historical and Genealogical Register, XIX, 135. 



12 Wells, op. cit., II, 300-1. 
u The Works of John Adams, II, 406-7. 

14 Dr. Joseph Warren to Samuel Adams, May 1 7, 1 775, in Richard 
Frothingham, Life and Times of Joseph Warren, 485. 
Works of John Adams, II, 410. 

17 Journals of the Continental Congress, 112. 

u The Works of John Adams, III, 16. 

19 Frothingham, op. cit. 3 485. 

20 Cited in E. G. Burnett, The Continental Congress, 74. 

21 Resolution of the Continental Congress, June 7, 1775, printed 

in The Works of John Adams, III, 1 7. 

22 Excerpt from the Diary of John Adams in Works, II, 415-16. 



27 John Adams in Autobiography in Works, III, 1 8. 

28 John Adams to Dr. J. Morse, January i, 1816, in Works, X, 197. 

29 Jonas Clarke, "A Sermon Preached before His Excellency, John 
Hancock/ 3 1781. 




The original depositions taken at the direction of the Second 
Provincial Congress, were sworn to on April 23, 24, and 25, 1775, 
in Lexington, in Concord, and in Charlestown. Twenty-one sepa- 
rate documents were gathered and are now at the Library of 
Harvard College and at the University of Virginia. 

1 . Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, and Elijah Sanderson, 
aU of Lexington 

2. Elijah Sanderson (supplementary to the above) 

3. Thomas Price Willard, of Lexington 

4. Simon Winship, of Lexington 

5. John Parker, of Lexington 

6. John Robbins, of Lexington 

7. Benjamin Tidd and Joseph Abbott, of Lexington 

8. Nathaniel Mullekin,, Philip Russell, Moses Harrington, 
Thomas and Daniel Harrington, William Grimer, William 



Tidd, Isaac Hastings, Jonas Stone, Jr., James Wyman, 
Thaddeus Harrington, John Chandler, Joshua Reed, Jr., 
Joseph Simonds, Phineas Smith, John Chandler, Jr., 
Reuben Lock, Joel Viles, Nathan Reed, Samuel Tidd, 
Benjamin Lock, Thomas Winship, Simeon Snow, John 
Smith, Moses Harrington, 3rd, Joshua Reed, Ebenezer 
Parker, John Harrington, Enoch WiHington, John Hos- 
mer, Isaac Green, Phineas Stearns, Isaac Durant, and 
Thomas Headly, Jr., all of Lexington 

9. Nathaniel Parkhurst, Jonas Parker, John Munroe, Jr., 
John Winship, Solomon Pierce, John Muzzy, Abner 
Mead, John Bridge, Jr., Ebenezer Bowman, William 
Munroe, 3rd, Micah Hagar, Samuel Sanderson, Samuel 
Hastings, and James Brown, all of Lexington 

10. Timothy Smith, of Lexington 

1 1 . Levi Mead and Levi Harrington, both of Lexington 

1 2 . William Draper, of Colrain 

1 3. Thomas Fessenden, of Lexington 

1 4. John Bateman, of the British Fifty-second Regiment 

15. John Hoar, John Whitehead, Abraham Gaxfield, Ben- 
jamin Munroe, Isaac Parks, William Hosmer, John 
Adams, and Gregory Stone, all of Lincoln 

1 6. Nathaniel Barrett, Jonathan Fairer, Joseph Butler, 
Francis Wheeler, John Barrett, John Brown, Silas Walker, 
Ephraim Melvin, Nathaniel Buttrick, Stephen Hosmer, 
Jr., Samuel Barrett, Thomas Jones, Joseph Chandler, 
Peter Wheeler, Nathan Peirce, and Edward Richardson, 
all of Concord 

17. Timothy Minot, Jr., of Concord 

1 8. James Barrett, of Concord 

19. Bradbury Robinson, Samuel Spring, and Thaddeus 
Bancroft, all of Concord, and James Adams, of Lexington 

20. James Marr, of the British Fourth Regiment 

21. Edward Thornton Gould, of the King's Own Regiment 



These depositions were published in Force, American Archives, 
4th Series, 11,487-50 1. 

A separate set of depositions was taken in 1825, fifty years after 
the event, from ten surviving witnesses or participants: Elijah 
Sanderson, William Munroe, John Munroe, Ebenezer Munroe, 
William Tidd, Nathan Munroe, Amos Lock, Joseph Underwood, 
Abijah Harrington, and James Reed. These are the garrulous 
recollections of old men, solicited to refute a claim advanced that 
the first active resistance to the British took place at Concord rather 
than at Lexington. It was in these depositions that the myth of 
Captain Parker's directing his men to "stand your ground" had 
its roots. They were first printed in Elias Phinney, History of the 
Battle at Lexington, in 1825. 

In 1827, two years later, in answer to Lexington's claims, four 
new affidavits, by John Richardson, Samuel Hartwell, Robert 
Douglass, and Sylvanus Wood, were published in Ezra Ripley, 
History of the Fight at Concord, a contentious reply to Phinney. 

In ^SS, Josiah Adams, a native of Acton, published, in his 
address on the centennial of that town, six more depositions by 
four Acton citizens : Thomas Thorp and Solomon Smith,, members 
of Captain Isaac's company that led the fighting at Concord's 
North Bridge; Charles Handley, a Concord spectator; and 
Hannah Davis Leighton, Captain Davis' widow. All these later 
depositions, made fifty to sixty years after the events, by aged 
men in an atmosphere of inter-town feuds, must be used with 
caution; but some of them add interesting and entirely plausible 


Adams, John, is the major source on the second session of the 
Continental Congress. His diary, autobiography, and correspond- 
ence for the period are in Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works 
of John Adams, 10 vols. Boston, 1850-56. 



Baker, Amos, The Affidavit of, is an Appendix to Robert 
Rantoul, Jr., An Oration Delivered at Concord on the Celebra- 
tion of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Events of April ig, 
i?75> Boston, 1 850. 

Barker, Lieut. John, Diary, is a highly critical account by an 
officer of the light infantry company of the King's Own Regiment. 
It was published in the Atlantic Monthly, XXXIX, 389-401, 
544-54, and in Elizabeth E. Dana, ed., The British in Boston, 
Boston, 1924. 

Barrett, Amos, "Concord and Lexington Battle," in Henry 
True, Journals and Letters, Marion, Ohio, 1906, is a sprightly, 
concise account by a provincial participant in the Concord battle. 

Belknap, Dr. Jeremy, Journal of My Tour to the Camp, in First 
Series, Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, IV, 77-86, 
contains information gathered from personal interviews with 
participants in the battle. 

Clarke, Reverend Jonas, "Opening of the War of the Rev- 
olution," an appendix to his anniversary sermon preached on 
April 19, 1776, The Fate of Blood-thirsty Oppressors, and re- 
printed by The Lexington Historical Society, 1901, is a brief, 
reliable account but carefully phrased to intensify anti-British 
feeling as the war moved into its second year. 

De Beraiere, Henry, Narrative of Occurrences, 1775, is a 
straightforward,, sober chronicle by an ensign of the British Tenth 
Regiment, written in Boston in 1 776 and originally published there 
in 1779; a* 80 * n Second Series, Massachusetts Historical Society 
Collections, IV, 204 ff. 

Emerson, Reverend William, Diary of April nineteenth, 1775? is 
inserted as a manuscript facsimile in the back matter of Proceed- 
ings of the Centennial Celebration of Concord Fight, Concord, 
1876. Though he reported with the militia early in the morning, 
Emerson stayed on the Concord side of the North Bridge during 
the fight to protect his wife and children at the manse near the 



formation of the British. His diary account is reliable and in- 

Gage, General Thomas, "A Circumstantial Account of an 
Attack that Happened on the igth April, 1775," was originally 
sent to the colonial governors to counteract the provincial propa- 
ganda; it is published in Force, Archives, 4th Series, II, 435, and 
in Second Series, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, II, 
224 ff. This is Gage's fullest account, based on the reports that he 
had from the field officers but full of unsubstantiated assumptions 
about the first firing at Lexington. Gage's reports to the ministers at 
London are in The Correspondence of General Thomas Gage 
(New Haven: 1933) : to Lord Dartmouth, I, 396; to Lord Bar- 
rington, II, 673. The letters are sparse and, of course, defensive. 
Gage's manuscript papers are at Clements Library, University of 

Gordon, Reverend William, "An Account of the Commence- 
ment of Hostilities between Great Britain and America, in the 
Province of Massachusetts Bay," was written May 17, 1775, 
following the author's interviewing of participants, including the 
British prisoners. Gordon, pastor of the Third Church at Roxbury 
and also chaplain of the Provincial Congress, wrote his valuable 
account in the form of "a letter to a gentleman in England" and 
gave authority for all his statements. The letter is in Force, 
Archives, 4th Series, II, 625 ff. Gordon's History of the Rise, 
Progress and Establishment of the Independence of The United 
States of America, 4 vols., was begun in 1776 and published in 
London in 1788. It is partisan and unreliable. 

Heath, General William, the first American general officer 
on the scene, gives his own account in his Memoirs, Boston, 1798. 
He was a field officer of indifferent ability, but his account is 
simple, direct, and reflects his limited military insight. Heath's 
papers are in Fifth Series, Massachusetts Historical Society 
Collections, IV, and Sixth Series, IV and V. 

Lister, Ensign Jeremy, of the British Tenth Regiment, wrote 



an account of his experiences in 1 782, particularly valuable for the 
fight at Concord. It was published with the title. Concord Fight, 
Cambridge, 1931; and it is discussed carefully by Allen French 
in General Gage's Informers, Ann Arbor, 1932. 

Mackenzie, Lieutenant Frederick, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, 
Diary, was published in 2 vols., Cambridge, 1930. This is an ex- 
cellent journal by an observant, sensible, and experienced officer. 

McClure, Reverend David, "Diary," in First Series, Massachu- 
setts Historical Society Proceedings, XVI, 155 ff. contains an 
account of his interviews with participants, including British 

Percy, Hugh, Earl, Letters, published in Boston, 1902, and 
edited by C. K. Bolton, contains his account of the retreat in an 
official report to Gage and in two informal letters. 

Pitcairn, Major John, gives a concise, direct report of the battle 
at Lexington Common in his letter to Gage. It is printed in Gen- 
eral Gage's Informers, 55 ff. 

Pope, Richard, apparently a Boston loyalist volunteer who went 
to Concord with Lord Percy's force, wrote an account, much of it 
based on what he had heard from others. It was published, to- 
gether with a long and valuable letter of Lieutenant William 
Sutherland (q.v.) under the title Late News, Boston, 1927. 

Quincy, Dorothy, gave her version of Hancock's stay at Lexing- 
ton to General William H. Sumner in 1822; it was published in 
New England Historical and Genealogical Register, VIII, 188. 

Revere, Paul, left two excellent accounts of his activities on the 
night of April eighteenth, 1775, The first was an unsworn deposi- 
tion, probably written shortly after the event; the second, a letter, 
expanding on the events, addressed to Jeremy Belknap, Secretary 
of the Massachusetts Historical Society, was dated January I, 
1798. It is in the First Series, Massachusetts Historical Society 
Collections, V, 106 ff. and Proceedings, XVI, 371 ff. The deposi- 
tion is in Goss, Life of Colonel Paul Revere, I, 1 80 ff . 

Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Francis, wrote an official report to 



General Gage, printed in First Series, Massachusetts Historical 
Society Proceedings, XIV, 350. Its value is limited by Smith's 
propensity to be late everywhere. Allen French discovered a more 
important letter from Smith to Major R. Donkin, dated October 
8, 1775, in the Gage MSS., and discusses it in General Gage's 
Informers, 61 ff. 

Sutherland, Lieutenant William, an enterprising and responsible 
officer, wrote a narrative letter to Sir Henry Clinton, April 26, 
1775, and another to General Gage, the following day. The 
former was published in Late News, and the latter in General 
Gage's Informers. 


Indispensable to the student of the American Revolution are the 
local histories, most of them written by dedicated and industrious 
town and city historians of the last century. Of widely varying 
literary quality, sometimes of uneven scholarship, occasionally 
rather over prideful and in some cases not too discriminating 
between tradition and research, they nevertheless contain a wealth 
of detail which would not otherwise be so conveniently available. 
Among those listed here, Hudson's long history of Lexington, 
despite its aggressive local pride, is particularly noteworthy, as 
are Paige's Cambridge and Shattuck's Concord. Allen French's 
wholly admirable and judicious work is in a category of excellence 
by itself. Josiah Adams, Phinney and Ripley are argumentative 
and defensive and must be used with care. The following local 
histories were all of some value: 

Adams, Josiah, Acton Centennial Address, Boston: 1835 
Brown, Francis H., Epitaphs in the Old Burying-Grounds of 

Lexington, Massachusetts, Lexington: 1905 
Butler, Caleb, History of the Town of Groton, Boston: 1848 
Drake, Samuel Adams, Historic Fields and Mansions of Mid- 
dlesex, Boston: 1879 



- , History of Middlesex County, Mass., 2 vols., Boston : 1 880 
French, Allen, Day of Concord and Lexington, Boston : 1925 
Green, S. A., Groton during the Revolution, Boston : 1 890 
Hudson, Charles, History of the Town of Lexington, Massa- 

chusetts, Boston: 1868 (revised and reprinted in two volumes 

by the Lexington Historical Society in 1913, with an invaluable 

genealogical register) 
King, Daniel P., Address Commemorative of Seven Young Men of 

Danvers, Salem: 1835 

Lexington Historical Society, Proceedings, 4 vols., 1886-1912 
Mann, Herman, Annals of Dedham, J)edham: 1847 
Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, various series 

- , Proceedings, various series (Significant items are noted 
by author.) 

Morison, Samuel Eliot, Three Centuries of Harvard, Cambridge : 

Paige, Lucius R., History of Cambridge, Boston: 1877 

Phillips, James Duncan, Salem in the Eighteenth Century, Boston : 

Phinney, Elias, History of the Battle at Lexington, Boston: 1825 

Ripley, Ezra, A History of the Fight at Concord, on the igth of 

April, 1775) Concord: 1827 
Shattuck, Lemuel, History of the Town of Concord, Boston and 

Concord -.1835 

Smith, Frank, History of Dedham, Dedham : 1936 
Smith, Samuel Abbott, West Cambridge on the Nineteenth of 

April, 1775, Boston: 1864 
Smith, S. F., History of Newton, Boston : 1 880 
Sumner, William H., History of East Boston, Boston: 1858 
Wheildon, William W., New Chapter in the History of the Con- 

cord Fight: Groton Minutemen, Boston: 1885 
Winsor, Justin, ed., Memorial History of Boston, 4 vols., Boston: 

Worthington, Erastus, History of Dedham, Boston: 1827 



Harold Murdock's three skeptical papers on Concord and Lex- 
ington were published under the title, The Nineteenth of April, 
*77 5> Boston, 1923. Informed, critical, witty, the essays are of 
immense value for the lines of inquiry that they suggest and for the 
sprightly persistence with which Mr. Murdock tracked down some 
of the atrocity myths both of which historical excursions were 
highly important to this book* 


For the principal figures in this book, I have generally relied on 
their own works and those of their contemporaries. There are no 
biographies of the Lexington figures, although there are some 
useful sketches in the Proceedings of the Lexington Historical 
Society, already noted. For the Harvard teachers and clergy who 
taught the Samuel Adams generation, Sibley's Harvard Graduates 
and Josiah Quincy's History of Harvard, both noted below, are 
necessary. John Adams is best revealed in his own Works and 
Familiar Letters y noted below. There is no adequate general biog- 
raphy, though Catherine D. Bowen's John Adams and the Amer- 
ican Revolution is an interesting and careful reconstruction. 
Samuel Adams is best treated in John C. Miller's Sam Adams, 
Pioneer in Propaganda, which, however, has some omissions. 
Ralph Harlow's study of Adams from the Freudian point of 
view is not entirely successful. William V. Wells, Adams' grandson, 
wrote a long biography, which omits some unfavorable episodes 
but contains a great deal of reliable material not elsewhere avail- 
able. J. K. Hosmer's briefer biography is good but uncritical. The 
best Hancock biography is by Herbert S. Allan, who is careful, 
thorough, and unprejudiced in his research but somewhat partisan 
in his conclusions. The Dictionary of American Biography is, of 
course, excellent for all the major Revolutionary figures. 



Adams, Charles Francis, ed., The Works of John Adams with a 

Life, 10 vols., Boston: 1856 
, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail 

during the Revolution, New York: 1876 
Allan, Herbert S., John Hancock, Patriot in Purple, New York: 


Armory, Thomas C., Life of James Sullivan, 2 vols., Boston: 1859 
Arnold, Isaac, The Life of Benedict Arnold, Chicago: 1880 
Bowen, Catherine D., John Adams and the American Revolution, 

Boston: 1950 

Bradford, Alden, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Rev. Jon- 
athan Mayhew, D. D v Boston: 1838 

Brown, Abram English, John Hancock, His Book, Boston: 1898 
Carter, Clarence, ed., The Correspondence of General Thomas 

Gage with the Secretaries of State and with the War Office and 

Treasury, 2 vols., New Haven: 1931-33 

Chamberlain, Mellen, John Adams, The Statesman of The Amer- 
ican Revolution, Bostou: 1884 
Chinard, Gilbert, Honest John Adams, Boston: 1933 
Gushing, Harry A., ed., The Writings of Samuel Adams, 4 vols., 

New York: 1904-8 

Davol, Ralph, Two Men of Taunton, Taunton: 1912 
Decker, Malcolm, Benedict Arnold, Tarrytown: 1932 
Dictionary of American Biography, Allen Johnson and Dumas 

Malone, eds. 21 vols., New York: 1928-37 
Forbes, Esther, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, Boston : 

Freeman, Douglas S., George Washington, 5 vols., New York: 

Frotbingham, Richard, The Life and Times of Joseph Warren, 

Boston: 1865 

Goss, E. H., The Life of Colonel Paul Revere, 2 vols., Boston : 1 89 1 
Harlow, Ralph V., Samuel Adams, Promoter of the American 

Revolution, New York: 1923 



Hffldrup, Robert L., Life and Times of Edmund Pendleton, 

Chapel Hill: 1939 

Holland, H. W., William Dawes and His Ride, Boston: 1878 
Hosmer, James K., Samuel Adams, Boston: 1896 
Knollenberg, Bernard, Washington and the Revolution, New 

York: 1940 

Lucas, Reginald, Lord North, 2 vols., London: 1913 
Martyn, Charles, The Life of Artemas Ward, New York: 1921 
Mays, David John, Edmund Pendleton, 2 vols.., Cambridge : 1 952 
Miller, John C., Sam Adams, Pioneer in Propaganda, Boston: 

Nettels, Curtis P., George Washington and American Independ- 

ence, Boston: 1951 

Pell, John, Ethan Allen, Boston: 1939 
Quincy, Josiah, Memoir of the Life of Josiah Quincy, Junior, 

Boston: 1825 
- , The History of Harvard University (Vol. II for the 

eighteenth century presidents and the Harvard clerics) , Cam- 

bridge: 1840 
Sears, Lorenzo, John Hancock, The Picturesque Patriot, Boston: 

Shipton, Clifford K., Isaiah Thomas, Printer, Patriot and Philan- 

thropist, Rochester: 1948 
Sibley, John Langdon, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of 

Harvard University, Cambridge: 1873- 
Still6, Charles J., Life and Times of John Dickinson, Philadelphia : 



The number of provocative and valuable monographs on the 
American Revolution is tremendous and growing. Only those with 
a special relevance to the thesis of this book are listed here. Of 



Immeasurable value also have been various original documents, 
especially some of the sermons of the New England clergy. 

Adams, Randolph G., Political Ideas of the American Revolution) 

Durham: 1922 
Andrews, Charles McLean, "Conditions Leading to the Revolt 

of the Colonies," in Selected Essays in Anglo-American Legal 

History, Eoston: 1907 

, The Colonial Period of American History, Durham 11922 

, The Colonial Background of the American Revolution, 

New Haven: 1924 
Baldwin, Alice M., The New England Clergy and the American 

Revolution, Durham: 1928 
Clarke, Jonas, The Importance of Military Skill, Measures for 

Defence and a Martial Spirit, in a Time of Peace, Boston: 1 768 
, The Fate of Blood-thirsty Oppressors and God's Tender 

Care of His Distressed People, A Sermon Preached at Lexington, 

April 19, 1776, Boston: 1776 
, A Sermon Preached before His Excellency, John Han- 

cock, Boston: 1781 
Greene, Evarts B., The Revolutionary Generation, 1765-1790, 

New York: 1943 
Holyoke, Edward, Integrity and Religion, Boston: 1736 

, Obedience and Submission, Boston: 1737 

Howard, George Elliott, Preliminaries of the American Revo- 

lution, 1763-1 775,, New York: 1905 
Humphreys, Edward F., Nationalism and Religion in America, 

1774-17%, Boston: 1924 
Jameson, J. Franklin, The American Revolution Considered as a 

Social Movement, function: 1926 
Kraus, Michael, Intercolonial Aspects of American Culture on 

the Eve of the Revolution, New York: 1928 
Lothrop, Samuel EL, History of the Church in Brattle Street, 

Boston, Boston : 1851 



Mayhew, Jonathan, The Snare Broken, A Thanksgiving Discourse 

Preached at the Desire of the West Church in Boston, Boston : 

Moore, Frank, ed., Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution, 

New York: 1862 
Sprague, William B., Annals of the American Pulpit, New York: 

Thornton, J. W., ed., The Pulpit of the American Revolution, 

Boston: 1860 
Van Tyne, Claude Halstead, "Influence of the Clergy, and of 

Religious and Sectarian Forces, on the American Revolution," 

in American Historical Review, XIX, 44-64 
Weedon, William B., Economic and Social History of New Eng- 

land, 2 vols., Boston : 1891 


For the uses of the battle of Lexington for propaganda purposes 
both in the colonies and in England and aspects of Massachusetts 
history accounting for the local attitudes before and after the 
nineteenth of April, 1775, other special studies have been stimu- 
lating and valuable. Philip Davidson's study of propaganda and 
the Revolution set for itself a rather ambitiously inclusive goal, 
which makes an otherwise interesting work perhaps too general. 
Such inquiries as Arthur M. Schlesinger'sPr#/ud to Independence 
deal more manageably with individual aspects of the subject. 

Adams, Brooks, The Emancipation of Massachusetts, Boston: 

Adams, Randolph G. 5 "New Light on the Boston Massacre/' 

American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, V., 47 ff. 
Alden, John Richard, General Gage in America, Baton Rouge: 




Beer, George Louis, The Commercial Policy of England toward 

the American Colonies, New York: 1893 

, British Colonial Policy, 175^-1 765,, New York: 1907 

Brigham, Clarence L., History and Bibliography of American 

Newspapers, 1690-1820, 2 vols., Worcester: 1947 
Burnett, Edmund C., Letters of Members of the Continental 

Co ngress, Washington : 192136 

, The Continental Congress, New York: 1941 

Clark, Dora M., British Opinion and the American Revolution, 

New Haven: 1930 
Coupland, R., American Revolution and the British Empire, 

London: 1930 
Cross, Arthur Lyon, The Anglican Episcopate and the American 

Colonies, Cambridge : 1902 
Gushing, Harry A., History of the Transition from Provincial to 

Commonwealth Government in Massachusetts, New York: 

Davidson, Philip, Propaganda and the American Revolution, 

Chapel Hill: 1941 
Duniway, Clyde A., The Development of Freedom of the Press 

in Massachusetts, Cambridge: 1906 

Fisher, Sydney George, "The Legendary and Myth-Making Proc- 
ess in Histories of the American Revolution," in American 

Philosophical Society Proceedings, LI, 53-76 
French, Allen, General Gage's Informers, Ann Arbor: 1932 
Hinkhouse, Fred Junkin, The Preliminaries of the American 

Revolution as Seen in the English Press, New York: 1926 
Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe, Boston Common, Scenes from 

Four Centuries, Cambridge: 1910 
Loring, James S., The Hundred Boston Orators Appointed by the 

Municipal Authorities and Other Public Bodies, from 1770 to 

1852, Boston: 1853 
Mott, Frank Luther, "The Newspaper Coverage of Lexington 

and Concord," in New England Quarterly, XVII, 489-505 



Mowat, R. B., England in the Eighteenth Century, New York: 


Mullett, Charles F., Fundamental Law and the American Revo- 
lution, 1 760-1 Jj6, New York: 1933 

Scheide, J. H., "The Lexington Alarm," in American Antiquarian 
Society Proceedings, L, 4979 

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Prelude to Independence, the Newspaper 
War on Britain, 1764-1776, New York: 1958 

Tyler, Moses Coit, The Literary History of the American Revo- 
lution, 1763-1783, 2 vols., New York : 1897 


The best general history of the Revolution is still Trevelyan. 
The best long history of the United States is Channing, and the 
best short history is Morison and Commager, The Growth of the 
American Republic. John C. Miller's two studies are excellent, 
and so is Carl Becker's too brief The Eve of the Revolution. A 
general bibliography of the Revolution is not attempted here, of 
course, but the works listed provide the necessary framework in 
which to consider the limited area of this book. 

Becker, Carl, The Eve of the Revolution, New Haven: 1921 

Carpenter, William Seal, The Development of American Political 
Thought, Princeton: 1930 

Channing, Edward, A History of the United States, 6 vols., New 
York: 1905-25 

Commager, Henry Steele, see Morison, S. E. 

Curti, Merle, The Growth of American Thought, New York : 1 943 

Force, Peter, ed., American Archives, 4th and 5th Series, 9 vols., 
Washington: 1837-53 

Ford, Worthington Chauncey, et al., eds., Journals of the Conti- 
nental Congress, 34 vols., Washington: 1904-37 

Fortesque, Sir John W., History of the British Army, London: 



Lancaster, Bruce, From Lexington to Liberty, New York: 1955 
Lecky, William E. EL, The American Revolution, 1765-1783, 

New York: 1898 
Miller, John, Origins of the American Revolution, Boston: 1943 

, The Triumph of Freedom, Boston: 1948 

Montross, Lynn, Rag, Tag, and Bobtail: The Story of the Con- 
tinental Army, 1 775-1783, New York: 1951 
Morison, Samuel Eliot, and Commager, Henry Steele, The 

Growth of the American Republic, 2 vols. Third Edition, New 

York: 1942 
Nevins, Allen, The American States During and After the Revo- 

lution, New York: 1924 
Osgood, H. L., The American Colonies in the Eighteenth Century, 

New York: 1924 
Schlesinger, Arthur M., "The American Revolution" in NeW' 

Viewpoints in American History, New York : 1928 
Trevelyan, Sir George O., The American Revolution, 4 vols., 

New York: 1899-1907 
Winsor, Justin, Narrative and Critical History of America, 8 vols., 

Boston: 1884-89 



Acton, 163, 165, 1 80 

Adair, Lt. (British infantry ) 9 113 


Adams, Hannah, 23132 

Adams, John, 193, 214, 248, 249, 
255, 258, 259, 260, 268; defends 
British soldiers, 66; visits mili- 
tia, 248; journey to Philadelphia, 
248, 251, 252; program for Con- 
tinental Congress, 256-57; on 
instituting civil government, 
260-61, 262; nominates Wash- 
ington as commander in chief, 

Adams, Deacon Joseph, 199, 231 

Adams, Rebecca, 232 

Adams, Samuel, 78, 85, 97, 99, 
263, 265; quoted, 55, 65, 69, 1 1 1, 
139, 207, 262; character and 
background, 62, 63-76, 78-79, 
*93, 256; at Jonas Clarke's, 62, 
71, 75-79, in, 112-13; at First 
Continental Congress, 63, 64; 
political career before Lexing- 
ton, 63-75, ?6> 79J and Boston 
mobs, 65-66, 69, 71, 126; and 
Hancock, 62, 65, 66-68, 69, 70, 
73> 75. 76, 78, 79, 88, 92, 98, 
no, iii, 140, 142, 158, 212, 
248-53; and Provincial Con- 
gress, 70, 72-74, 112, 193, 216; 
and Lexington battle, 79, 124, 
125, 126-27, 139; as possible 
object of British search, 78, 93, 
94, 98, 109, 139; escape from 
Lexington, 111-12, 139, 193; 

and Dr. Warren, 213-14, 216; 
en route to Philadelphia, 224, 
248-53; at Hartford, 249-51; at 
opening of Second Continental 
Congress, 254-55, 257, 258; 
seconds nomination of Wash- 
ington, 266 
Adams, Susanna, 232 
Alarm lists, 46, 48, 151, 153 
Allen, Ethan, 250 
Ancient and Honourable Artillery 

(Boston), 190 
Andrews, John, 218 
Anglican clergy, 39, 40 
Arlington, see Menotomy 
Arnold, Benedict, 220-21, 250 
Atrocity stories, 218-20, 230-33 

Back Bay, Boston, 90, 92, 93, 98 

Ballard, John, 91 

Baltimore, 68 

Barker, Lt. John (British in- 
fantry), 89, 107, 129, 133, 138, 
158, 160, 163, 164, 171, 178, 181, 

202, 203 

Barrett, Amos (Concord minute- 
man), 152, 165, 1 66, 177 

Barrett, Col. James (Concord 
minuteman), 153, 154, 155, 161, 
163-64, 1 68 

Barrett, Mrs, James, 157 

Barrett, Samuel, of Concord, 158 

Barrett, Deacon Thomas, of Con- 
cord, 158 

Barrington, Viscount, (William 
Wildman), 236 



Bateman, John, British private, 
129, 226 

Beaton, John, of Concord, 175 

Bedford, 32, 36, 163, 176, 178, 180 

Bedford, Grosvenor, 38 

Bernard, Gov. Sir Francis, 190 

Beverly, 219 

Billerica, 140, 174, 176, 248 

Black Horse Tavern, 194 

Bliss, Daniel (Concord loyalist), 

Bond, Joshua, of Lexington, 189 

Boston, 19, 20-21, 44-45, 50-51, 
59-62, 63, 65-66, 68-69, 70, 
71-72, 75, 76, 77, 78-79, 85-88, 
90-92, 98, 105-6, 140, 158, 167, 
181-85, 196, 198, 200-4, 210, 
212-15, 219, 221-23, 227, 234, 
240, 247, 255, 256, 260, 267 

"Boston Journal of Occurrences," 

Boston Massacre, 66, 69, 76, 193, 
214, 251 

Boston Neck, 51, 92-96, 182, 183, 

Boston Port Bill, 69, 87, 214 

Boston Tea Party, 69, 78, 198 

Bowes, Lucy, see Mrs. Jonas 

Bowman, Thaddeus (Lexington 
minuteman), 116, 126 

Braintree, 60 

Brattle Street Church, Boston, 76 

Brighton, 200, 217 

Brooks, Dr. John (Reading min- 
uteman), 176-77 

Brown, Capt. (British infantry), 
88, 89, 92, 149 

Brown, Sgt Francis (Lexington 
minuteman), 49 

Brown, John, 135 

Brown, John, of Pittsfield, 249, 250 

Brown, Reuben, (Concord minute- 
man), 175 

Brown, Solomon, (Lexington min- 
uteman), 97, 98, 102, 135-36 

Brown, Capt. Timothy, of Con- 
cord, 165 

Buckman's Tavern, 32, 50, 57, 77, 
98, 100, 109, ill, 115, 116, 117, 
125, 128, 131, 134, 135, 137 

Bunker's Hill, 133, 202, 268, 269 

Burke, Edmund, 241 

Buttrick, Maj. John, (Concord 
minuteman), 152, 153, 163-64, 

Calvin, John, 31 

Calvinism, 38, 39, 41 

Cambridge, 50, 92, 108, 109, 158, 
184-85, 191, 199, 203, 215, 216, 
220-23, 228, 230, 231, 232, 247, 
257, 260, 263, 265, 267 

Canada, 73, 249, 250, 257 

Carleton, Guy, 250 

Carlisle, 163 

Gary, Rev. Thomas, 219-20 

Castleton, Vermont, 250 

Charles River, 30, 78, 89, 92-94, 
106-7, I ^4j 200-1, 210, 221 

Charleston, S.C., 68 

Charlestown, 92, 94-96, 174, 194, 

2OI, 202, 204, 210, 219, 221, 
229, 231, 240 

Champlain, Lake, 34, 249 

Chauncey, Rev. Charles, 41 

Chelmsford, 163 

Childs, Abijah (Lexington minute- 
man), 59 

Church, Dr. Benjamin, 51, 74, 87, 
88, 227-30, 259 

Church of Christ, Lexington, 40, 


Church of England, 40, 41, 45, 254 
Clarke, Elizabeth, 141-43 



Clarke, Rev. Jonas, 51, 62, 75, 76, 
77> 79 97, 99, o, 1545 270; 
character, 34-36; as pastor at 
Lexington, 34, 35, 39-40, 41, 57; 
as political theorist, 36, 38, 41, 
42-45, 46, 57, 59 j influence in 
Lexington, 35-36, 46, 71, 79, 98, 
in, 112-13, 150, 269; family, 
3 6 > 58-599 141, 142; and Lex- 
ington battle, 124, 125, 128, 132, 
139, 142 

Clarke, Mrs. Jonas, 36, 59 

Coercive Acts, of 1774, 45, 63 

Comee, Joseph (Lexington min- 
uteman), 131, 136, 138 

Committees of Correspondence, 
44> 78, 217 

Committees of Safety, 48, 51, 59, 
62, 70, 72, 79, 91, 92, 94-95, 96, 
108, in, 190, 191, 194, 215, 221, 
222-24, 227, 236, 249, 250, 264 

Committees of Supplies, 74, 96, 

Conant, Col, William, 92, 94 

Concord, 20, 106, 174-75, 176, 
204, 212, 218, 225-27, 231, 247; 
description, 88, 49-51, 152-53; 
Provincial Congress meetings, 
51, 62, 65, 71-74, 224, 255; 
stores at, 79, 87, 88-89, 9*-9*> 
94, 103, 115, 123, 131, 151-52, 
154, 228; British raid, 151-68, 
203; battle at North Bridge, 
159-66, 175, 182, 185, 226, 229 

Concord River, 115, 154, 155 

Connecticut, 39, 73, 220, 233, 249, 
250, 252 

Continental Congress, First, 51, 63, 
65, 70, 7*> 75> 125, 255 

Continental Congress, Second, 247, 
259-67; meets in Philadelphia, 
75, 212, 220, 248, 251, 257; and 
Samuel Adams, 75, 254-55; and 

program of John Adams, 256- 
57; considers efforts at recon- 
ciliation, 258; responds to Mas- 
sachusetts petition, 262-63; be- 
comes central colonial authority, 
263; elects Washington, as com- 
mander in chief, 267 

Cooke, Rev. Samuel, 199, 232 

Cooper, Benjamin, 197, 232 

Cooper, Rachel, 197 

Cooper, Rev. Samuel, 76 

Crown Point, N. Y., 257 

Cuming, Dr. John, of Concord, 

Gushing, Thomas, 248, 249, 251, 
264, 266-67 

Dana, Richard Henry, Jr., quoted, 


Danvers, 174, 197, 219 
Dartmouth, Earl (William 

Legge), 87, 88, 90, 236, 237, 


Davis, Deacon Caleb, 228 

Davis, Capt. Isaac (Acton min- 
uteman), 163, 165 

Dawes, William, 91, 92-96, 100-1, 
no, 113, 183 

De Berniere, Ensign Henry (Brit- 
ish infantry), 88, 89, 92, 129, 
131, 133, 149, 177, 180 

Declaration of Independence, 41 

Dedham, 174 

Derby, John, 236-37, 238, 239 

Derby, Richard, 236 

Devens, Richard, 94, 95, 96 

Diamond, William (Lexington 
drummer), 19, 20, 23, 29, 48, 
109, 113, 1 1 6, 126, 140, 143, 
173, 267, 268 

Dickinson, John, 258 

Dorr, Ebenezer, 96 

Downer, Dr. Eliphalet, 197 



East Sudbury, 177 
Edwards, Rev. Jonathan, 39 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, quoted, 

Emerson, Rev. William (Concord 

pastor), 151, 154, 1 66, 175 
Endicott, Gov. John, 150 
Episcopate, issue of, 40-41, 68 
Essex County, 201, 220 
Eustis, Dr. William, 194 

Fairfield, Conn., 251, 252, 258 
Fifty-second British Regiment, 

129, 226 
First Brigade (British), 181, 182, 

184, 186 
Fiske, Dr. Joseph, of Lexington, 

30, 33, 140 
Forty-third Regiment (British), 

160, 161, 176 
Forty-seventh Regiment (British), 

i8 9 

Foster, Rev. Edmund (Bedford 

minuteman), 178-79 
Fourth Regiment (British), 161, 

189, 226 

Framingham, 174, 177 
France, 37, 237, 256, 269 
Franklin, Benjamin, 35, 210, 236, 

237, 238, 240 
Fraunces Tauern, 253 
French and Indian wars, 19, 22, 23, 

34> 3^, 37> 47> 60, 124, 249, 

250, 264 

Gage, Gen. Thomas, 46, 48, 50-51, 
% 3 70, li, 72, 73, 75> 78, 79, 
86 > 9i, 92, 9 6 > 97* 99> 107, 149, 
l6 7> *75> 217, 249, 262; as com- 
mander in Boston, 21, 69, 85-91, 
93 94> 97> 102-6, 115, 189, 210, 
211, 225, 228, 247, 256; in- 
formers, 51, 74, 87, 88, 227-28, 

259; instructions to Smith, 90, 
103-4, IIJ *, 115, 154, 156; on 
eve of battle, 90, 181; sends re- 
lief force to Concord, 181-83; 
besieged, 221, 223; reports to 
England, 235, 236, 238, 239-40 

Gardner, Henry, Treasurer of Pro- 
vincial Congress, 156-57 

General Court of Mass., 33, 34, 
36, 42, 46, 48, 65, 66, 85 

Gentleman's Magazine > 238 

George III, 21, 197 

George, Lake, 249, 251 

Georgia, 233 

Georgia Gazette, 233 

Gerry, Elbridge, 96-97, 108 

Gould, Lt. Edward (British in- 
fantry), 129, 176, 185, 186, 226 

Great Awakening, 40, 150 

Great Britain, 37, 38, 45, 63, 64, 
6 9> 73> 1*6, 224, 233, 234-35, 
240, 241, 256 

Green Mountain Boys, 250 

Grenville, George, 37, 38, 42, 43 

Hadley, Samuel (Lexington min- 

uteman), 130, 135, 268 
Hancock, Rev. Ebenezer, 59, 60 
Hancock, Rev. John, 32-33, 34, 35, 
36, 40, 41, 50, 57, 59, 150-51, 

Hancock, Mrs. John (elder), 58 
Hancock, Rev. John, Jr., 59-60, 


Hancock, John, 59, 71, 97, 200, 
263, 264; character and back- 
ground, 60-62, 67, 112, 139, 
I 93J a t Jonas Clarke's, 59, 62, 
75~79> 99 ** 2 ; political career 
before Lexington, 65, 66-67, 70, 
76, 79; and Samuel Adams, 62, 
65, 66-68, 69, 70, 73, 75, 76, 



78, 79> 88, 92, 98, i io, in, 
140, 142, 158, 212, 248-53; and 
Provincial Congress, 70, 73, 79, 
112, 215; and Lexington battle, 
124, 125, 139, 140; as treasurer 
of Harvard, 61, 77; and fiancee, 
76, 139-40, 258; as possible ob- 
ject of British search, 78, 93, 94, 
98, 109, 139; escape from Lex- 
ington, 111-12, 139, 193; en 
route to Philadelphia, 224, 248- 
53; at Worcester, 249; at Hart- 
ford, 249-51; on New York re- 
ception, 252-53; elected Presi- 
dent of Continental Congress, 
258-59, 260; disappointment at 
Washington's nomination, 266 

Hancock, Thomas, 60, 61 

Hancock, Mrs. Thomas (Lydia), 
61, 75-76, 98, 1 10, in, 139, 
140, 141, 248, 249, 250, 251 

Harrington, Caleb (Lexington 
minuteman), 130, 136 

Harrington, Daniel (Lexington 
minuteman), 49, 109, 128 

Harrington, David, of Lexington, 

Harrington Family, of Lexington, 

Harrington, Jonathan (Lexington 

minuteman), 29, 128, 130, 135, 

136, 268 
Harrington, Moses, (Lexington 

minuteman), 130 
Harrington, Ruth Fiske, 135, 268 
Harvard College, 32, 34, 41, 58, 

59> 61, 77, 184, 185, 201, 212, 


Haynes, Deacon Josiah (Sudbury 

militia), 160, 219, 221 
Heath, Maj. Gen. William, 190- 

92, 194-95, 200, 2OI, 202, 220 

Hayward, James (Acton minute- 
man), 1 80 

Henry, Patrick, 263 

Hicks, John, 198, 199 

Holyoke, Edward, Pres. of Har- 
vard, 35, 41, 42, 212 

Hosmer, Joseph (Concord minute- 
man), 161 

Hubbard, Ebenezer, of Concord, 

Hutchinson, Gov. Thomas, 237 

Hull, Lt. (British infantry), 176, 
185, 186 

Independent Corps of Cadets, 61, 


Ipswich alarm, 21920 
Isle of Wight, 237, 239 

Jefferson, Thomas, 35 

Jones, Ephraim, of Concord, 156 

Judaism, 39 

King's Bench Prison, 238 
King's Bridge, N. Y., 252 
King's Own Regiment, 107, 129, 
133, 160, 163, 176, 179, 185, 

203, 226 

Langdon, Samuel, Pres. of Har- 
vard, 77 

LarMn, Deacon John, 95, 99, 101, 

Laurie, Capt. Walter (British 
infantry), 160, 161, 162, 163, 
164, 165 

Lee, Arthur, 72, 236, 237, 238, 240 

Lee, Charles, 96, 108 

Lexington, 19-23, 29-52, 71, 75, 
78, 93~ I02 3 108-17, 152, 201, 

204, 212, 228, 231, 234, 237, 
247, 248, 251, 253, 254, 263, 
268, 270; description, 29-34, 



127-28, 149, 150, 151; political 
resolutions, 38, 44-46; military 
organization, 22, 46, 47-50; 
mustering, 20, 50, 100, 109, 
112, 113, 116, 123, 124, 141, 
143, 267; battle in morning, 
124-43, 224; battle in after- 
noon, 181, 187-88, 203; British 
return to, 175, 177, 178, 180- 
81, 186, 210; Percy's forces at, 
181-82, 186-90; retreat through, 
1 80-8 1, 186-90; depositions, 
225-27, 257 

Lexington Common, 19-23, 32, 
127-28, 130-39, 140, 141, 143, 
159, 173-74. J 75> 180-81, 186- 
87, 190, 194, 211, 219, 226, 230, 
267, 268 

Lincoln, 151, 152, 160, 163, 177, 

Lister, Ensign Jeremy (British in- 
fantry), 107, 133, 161, 162, 164, 

Locke Family, of Lexington, 29 

Locke, John, 35, 41 

London, 37, 38, 40, 43, 60, 65, 72, 
74, 75, 87, 182, 213, 236-39, 
247. 255, 257 

London Evening Post, 237 

London Press, 240 

Loring, Jonathan (Lexington min- 
uteman), 98, 102 

Louisburg, 22, 34* 4, 49> *34 

Lowell, John, 77, in, 117, 129 

Loyalists, 50, 65, 66, 71, 72, 85, 

87, 105, 114, 149-50, 181, 210, 

Mackenzie, Lt. Frederick (British 
infantry), 90, 106, 182-83, 187- 

88, 196, 199-200 
Magna Gharta, 44 

Marblehead, 72, 202 
Marcy, William, 198, 199, 202 
Maryland, 233, 257, 267 
Massachusetts Spy, 234 
Mather, Cotton, 31, 212 
Mayhew, Rev. Jonathan, 41, 42 
Medford, 45, 174, 186, 197, 226 
Menotomy (Arlington), 92, 95, 96, 

97, 108, 185, 186, 190, 191, 194, 

196, 197, 199, 202, 212 
Meriam's Corner, 176, 177 
Middlesex County, 19, 21, 124, 

134, 166, 174, 181, 249 
Militia, organization of provincial, 

46-47, 48, 71, 73, 88, 163, 168 
Minot, Dr. Timothy, of Concord, 

*74> 175 
Minutemen, as militia group, 22, 

46, 48, 50, 71, 79, 100, 109, 

124-25, 152, 153, 154, 163, 

166, 168, 177, 179, 192 
Mitchell, Maj. (British Infantry), 

101-2, 114 
Mulliken, Lydia, 100, 188, 268- 

Mulliken, Nathaniel, (Lexington 

minuteman), 100, 188, 269 
Munroe, Abraham, of Lexington, 

4 8 

Munroe, Ebenezer, (Lexington 

minuteman), 134 
Munroe, Edmund, (Lexington 

minuteman), 34, 47, 268 
Munroe Family, of Lexington, 29, 


Munroe, Jedediah (Lexington 
minuteman), 130, 134, 143, 173, 
1 80 

Munroe, John (Lexington minute- 
man), 49, 134-35 

Munroe, Marrett, of Lexington, 
128, 136 



Munroe, Nathan (Lexington min- 
uteman), 128 

Munroe, Robert, of Lexington, 47, 

Munroe, Ensign Robert (Lexing- 
ton minuteman), 130, 134, 135 

Munroe, Sgt. William (Lexington 
minuteman), 20, 49, 97, 99, 
108-9, i, *I2, 113, 126, 128, 
129, 135. 139, 1 86 

Munroe's Tavern, 49, 97, 100, 186, 
187, 188, 189 

Muzzy, Isaac (Lexington minute- 
man), 130, 135 

Muzzy, John (Lexington minute- 
man), 130 

Muzzy's Tavern, 32 

Mystic River 9 30, 201 

New Hampshire, 73, 220, 268 
New Hampshire Grants, 250 
New York, 40, 78, 233, 234, 249, 

250, 251-53, 254, 257, 268 
Newell Tavern, 108 

North Bridge (over Concord 
River), 154, 155, 159, 175, 182, 
185, 226, 230 

North Church, Boston, 92, 94 

North, Lord (Frederick), 45, 70, 
224, 235, 237, 240-41 

Northumberland, Duke of, 181 

Old South Meetinghouse, Boston, 


Orne, Azor, 96, 108 
Otis, James, 68 

Paine, Robert Treat, 248, 249, 

251, 264, 266-67 

Parker, Cpl. Ebenezer (Lexington 

minuteman), 49 
Parker Family, of Lexington, 29, 

30, 31, 32, 34, 50 

Parker, John, Capt (Lexington 
minuteman), 19-23, 29-34, 3$, 
47-52, 100, 109, in, 112-13, 
116, 123-27, 128, 129-30, 131, 
143, 173, *77> 186, 203, 218, 
225, 230, 267-68 

Parker, Jonas (Lexington minute- 
man), 29, 130, 132, 135 

Parker, Jonas, Jr. (Lexington min- 
uteman), 29, 130 

Parker, Josiah, of Lexington, 34, 

Parliament British, 36, 41-45, 49, 
51, 64, 66, 69, 72-73, 58, 238, 

Parsons, Capt. (British infantry), 
159-^0, 161, 162-63, 1 66, 167, 
*75> 230 

Pendleton, Edmund, 264-65, 266 

Percy, Hugh, Earl, 91, 92, 102, 
181, 182, 184-90, 191, 192, 193, 
*94> 195-97, 200-1, 203-4, 209, 

210, 212, 229, 231, 240 

Philadelphia, 38, 63, 64, 68, 75, 

77, 112, 212, 214, 224, 248, 249, 

254, 255, 257, 258, 259, 263, 

Phipp's Farm, 228, 230 

Pickering, Col. Timothy, 201-2, 

Pitcairn, Maj. John (Royal Ma- 
rines), 105, 114, 115, 127, 129, 
131-34, 136, 138, 154, 155, 156- 
57, 174, 175, 179, 183, 186, 195, 
231, 232 

Pittsfield, 249 

Prescott, Dr. Samuel, 100-1, no, 
151, 188, 268-69 

Prince Estabrook (Lexington 
slave-minuteman), 50, 130, 268 

Propaganda, in the colonies, 68, 

211, 212-21, 224-34; i* 1 Great 



Britain, 68, 224, 231, 232, 234- 

Provincial Congress, 34, 51, 57, 59, 
69, 70, 85, 87, 88, in, 112, 125, 
156, 190, 194, 215, 216, 220, 
247; establishment, 46, 193; 
legal status, 46, 48, 247; Con- 
cord sessions, 62, 65, 71-74, 75, 
126, 216, 224, 255; session at 
Watertown, 224, 249, 259; 
orders depositions taken, 225, 
231? 232; sends dispatches to 
London, 236-41; petitions Con- 
tinental Congress, 257, 259-63; 
sends messenger to Philadelphia, 

Puritanism, 31, 33, 38, 39, 40, 41, 

45, i5> J 57> 2 54 
Putnam, Israel, 179, 220, 254 

Quakers, 237, 255 

Quincy, Josiah, Jr., 255 

Quincy, Dorothy, 75-76, 99, no, 

in, 125, 139-4, 141,248,249, 

250, 251, 252, 258 
QuerOj Salem schooner, 236, 237, 


Raymond, John (Lexington min- 

uteman), 180 
Reading, 174, 176 
Reed Family, of Lexington, 29 
Revere, Paul, 78, 79, 89, 91, 92, 
93, 94> 95, 96, 98, 99, 100-2, 
108, 109, no, 111-14, 117, 129, 
136, 158, 194, 228, 268; quoted, 
78, 83, 92, 94, 95, 99, 101-2, 
108, 117, 227 

Richardson, Moses, 198, 199 
Rogers' Rangers, 19, 34, 47, 268 
Roxbury, 96, 190, 212, 221 
Royal Artillery, 181 
Royal Marines, 189 

Royal Welch Fusiliers, 90, 182, 

187, 189 
Russell, Jason, 198, 199 

Salem, 201, 202, 222, 236, 239 

Salem Gazette, 236, 237, 238 

Sanderson, Elijah (Lexington min- 
uteman), 98, 102 

Sherman, Roger, 266 

Simonds, Ensign Joseph (Lexing- 
ton minuteman) , 49 

Simonds, Joshua (Lexington min- 
uteman), 136, 137 

Slavery in Massachusetts, 50 

Smith, Lt. Col. Francis (British 
infantry), 90, 91, 103-5, Io6 > 
107, 112, 113, 115, 137-38, I53 ? 
154-55, J 59, 162, 163, 165-66, 
167, 174, 175, 179, 181, 182, 
183, 184, 1 86, 1 88, 190, 193, 
195, 203, 210, 228-29, 230, 231, 

Society for Supporting the Bill of 
Rights, 238 

Somerset, British man-of-war, 94, 
201, 202 

South Bridge (over Concord 
River), 155 

Southampton, England, 237, 238, 


Spain, 37, 256 
Stamp Act, 42-43, 63, 65, 66, 158, 

State House (Pa.) 257, 259, 264, 


Stone, Isaac, of Lexington, 32 
Stone, Jonas, of Lexington, 34, 36, 

4 6 

Stone, Samuel, of Lexington, 3 1 
Sudbury, 160, 174, 219 
Suffolk County, 174, 190 
Sukey, British packet, 236, 239 



Sutherland, Lt. William (British 
infantry) , 107, 113-15, 116, 131, 
133-34, J 37> l6 2, 164, 165, 178 

Taunton, 248, 251 

Tenth British Regiment, 105, 106- 

7> i37 ? *59> l61 
Ticonderoga, 249-50, 257 
Tidd Family, of Lexington, 29 
Tidd, Lt. William (Lexington min- 

uteman) 9 49, 136 
Tories, see Loyalists 
Trumbull, Gov. Jonathan, 249, 


Viles, Cpl. Joel (Lexington min- 

uteman) , 49 
Virginia, 254, 258, 263, 264, 266, 

Virginia Gazette (Dixon and 

Hunter's), 233 

Walpole, Horace, 38 

Ward, Gen. Artemas, 215, 220, 
221, 224, 254, 264, 266, 267 

Warren, Dr. Joseph, 75, 89, 98, 99, 
100, 109, 269; in Boston, 72, 78, 
91, 92, 93, 94, 113, 214; at Lex- 
ington, 191, 193, 194; during 
British retreat, 191, 193, 194, 
197; character, 193-94, 212-13, 
217; political career, 193-94, 
212-15; leads provincial civil 

government, 215-17, 218, 221- 
40, 262; as propagandist, 212- 
21, 224, 234-35, 240; letter to 
the British people, 231, 232, 235, 
240; petition to Continental 
Congress, 259 

Washington, George, 168, 202, 
245, 264-67 

Watertown, 92, 191, 224, 262 

Welch Fusiliers, 159 

Wellington, Benjamin (Lexington 
minuteman), 115 

West Church, Boston, 42 

Wheeler, Timothy, of Concord, 

White, Sgt. Ebenezer (Lexington 

minuteman), 49 
Whitefield, Rev. George, 150 
Whittemore, Samuel, 197-98, 232 
Wilkes, John, 237 
Wilson, Capt. Jonathan (Bedford 

minuteman ) , 1 79-80 
Winship, Jason, 197-98, 232 
Woburn, 135, 139, 140, 141, 142, 


Wood, Amos, of Concord, 157 
Wood, Sylvanus, 20 
Worcester, 93, 234, 249 
Wright's Tavern, 151, 174 
Wyman, Jabez, 197-98, 232, 248 

Yale College, 39, 105 

the, pnff, 
ovar the. C 

into Chctr\ 


W Concord ^ ..... CORNER 

(Continued from frcmt flap) 

: Here are the dedicated patriots whose 
patient, canny strategy goaded and 
guided their fellow colonists into a Rev- 
olutionary frame of mind in perhaps the 
most decisive battle for public opinion 
in all American history: Sam Adams 
the crafty, shabbily dressed Boston poli- 
tician who planted and nurtured the first 
small seeds of rebellion; "Bishop" John 
Hancock whose "enlightened Puritan- 
ism" inspired a passionate love of liberty 
in his Lexington parishioners and, by 
contrast, his frivolous, egotistical grand- 
son John whose ornate signature 
adorns the Declaration of Independence; 
Jonas Clarke also of Lexington, who 
combined politics and theology with 
brilliant success; Joseph Warren the 
jl^oung Boston physician and great Rev- 
olutionary publicist, who pressed the 
public-opinion battle right into the heart 
jof London; and John Adamsthe disci- 
jgjised intellectual who engineered the 
Appointment of Washington and the 
transformation of village militia into a 
continental army. 

The- dramatic, minute-by-minute ac- 
count of the famous battles at Lexing- 
ton and Concord, WILLIAM DIAMOND'S 
DKUAJ is history at its most exciting- 
history in which the influences that 
shaped men's minds are carefully ana- 
lyzed. Using contemporary letters, 
liaries, and eyewitness accounts, the 
tells the political, social, and, 
u,.jj>ve all, the human story of a revolu- 
I" Ai's beginnings when a young drum- 
\er boy called his young country 
:o arms. 


Printed in the U.S.A. 

II ! I W'" 11 * 1 I ""~ p